As I mentioned in the last post, I've been contacted by some LiveStrong donors who want their money back because they believe they donated under false pretenses. You can read about two of these donors on CNN. Here are a few bytes:
"It all started when Lance's first book came out," Connie Roddy said, referring to the 2001 publication of "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life," which details Armstrong's bout with testicular cancer. "I read it cover to cover. I was just so taken by who he said he was."
The Roddys -- who live in Santa Monica, California -- say they initially gave $50,000 to the foundation. In 2003, Connie Roddy said, she helped organize an event for the foundation at a health club that raised an additional $150,000.
Now they want their money back.
"I feel we were really fooled, we were really hoodwinked," she said.
Their concern comes in the wake of last week's finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of "overwhelming" evidence that Armstrong was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program."Another donor had this to say about LiveStrong and Lance Armstrong:
But criticism poured in from some of the charity's donors.
Former Livestrong donor Michael Birdsong of Salt Lake City is among them. "The charity was established and publicized and got their funds based on a fraud," he said.
Birdsong said he was attracted to the organization after his wife -- an avid cyclist -- was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, about when Armstrong won his first Tour de France title.
"She found his story very inspiring," he said. "Before we read his book, she would work all day, go to radiation treatments and go riding because that made her feel good."
In 2007, the couple "became part of the public face of the foundation," said Birdsong, a software engineer. "I was one of the people who would answer questions from people to raise money."
Though he had long been aware of the murmurings alleging drug use by Armstrong, he said he didn't believe them. "I was a huge Armstrong fan from 1999 to the time he retired; I would defend him from anyone."
But, as his involvement with Livestrong grew, "I started to ask what are they doing with all this money they are raising?"
The foundation's IRS filing last year reported more than $100 million in net assets or fund balances.
The organization spent $2.1 million in compensation to its seven highest-paid officers and three employees, according to the IRS form. No member of the board -- whose members include CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- was compensated, it said.
Now, Birdsong said, he feels disillusioned. "The whole thing is founded on a lie. The guy cheated and he forced other people to cheat. I would like my money back. We donated under false pretenses."Unfortunately, there are LiveStrong donors who feel like they are victims of fraud and would like to recover their donations. I do not know if there are legal grounds for a lawsuit so if you are aware of the legal issues or if you know of a lawsuit that these people could get involved in, please comment below.
Also, if you know someone who might understand the legal issues and could comment, please ask them to comment below. I'm sure there are donors who would appreciate your help.