Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lance Armstrong Investigation: Was LiveStrong Built on the Back of a Fraud?

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:

"For years, Connie and Daniel Roddy did all they could to support Livestrong, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the organization."
"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.


  1. the brilliant'LIVESTRONG'logo & wristband should be changed to 'LIVESTRAIGHT'!

    a bit tongue in check BUT id buy one.
    actually would be great too for a A.A/N.A recovery logo.
    IS very sad the whole scenario.Is an indictment on the cult of personality in the U.S too.
    the disturbing fact most likely Lance contracted his testi cancer frm taking masses doses of testosterone & epo makes it a more heart wrenching fraud.
    he should be stripped of his winnings,appearances fees,bonuses etc.
    the european doctors are the original rot,they should all be screened more thghly too.
    watch the speed times of the next few years Tour de France's start to go down!

  2. cadel evans won the tour-one,nearly twice-he did it naturally with no drugs-so crap u cant win not been on dope.

  3. I think one of the most disturbing things about this whole situation is summed up by one of the long standing talking points shouted from the rooftops by the die hard LA defenders and enablers..."Look what LA has done for cycling". My reply is alwyas, "Look what LA did TO cycling". Among the trashiest is a legion of cycling fans creaed in his own image (There are many that do not deserve this label). Of course it is asking too much for all sports fans to be able to think their way out of a wet paper bag but the logic that these people bring to the table is more than disappointing, it is depressing and a little frightening.

    Another talking point I would like to adress is, "Look what LA has done for Cancer". To which my reply is always, "Look what LA has done TO Cancer". The full negative impact his actions will have on charities of all sorts will be enormous. The impact on his fans, some of which are cancer sufferers will be unprecidented. The idea tha LA may have given himself cancer secondary to his behaviors is a seductive irony. The chap above is not the first to suggest a possible link. I was pre-med when LA won his first tour and when I found out about his story it was the first thing that crossed my mind. Later both during and after med school I periodically tried to find a link. I am not an oncologist but I have consulted one Onc and other dr's as well as done surveys of the literature and I was never able to find a smoking gun...even though I would consider myself biased toward finding such a link. My opinion is that chronic low level inflamation from years in the saddle could easily explain his testiculat CA. (inflamatory mediators are carcinogenic because they stimulate cell turnover as well as the genetic machinery to crank out various proteins. This increases the chances of mutations manifesting as CA).

    It is an equally seductive idea that LA may have cured his cancer by his endless stream of "meds". I am actually surprised that LA and his crack team has not seized upon this as a defense. I am not an oncologist but I can think of several arguments for the use of EPO to treat tumors or supress their recurrence. Certainly his team could apply the fanboy logic to this end???

  4. Hi:
    I work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and am looking to speak with Livestrong donors about the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. Please message or phone me if you're a Livestrong donor and have a reaction to this story. Thanks.
    Ashley Walters
    416 205 7523