Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lance Armstrong's Kingdom is Crumbling

 Update: since publishing this post this morning, several other sponsors have dropped Lance Armstrong. This article in The Wall Street Journal lists a bunch...

A few days ago, I received an email from a person who explained that, in 2000, she and her husband had donated $50,000 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, now LiveStrong. A few years later she initiated a fundraiser that hosted Lance and collected $155,000. She explained that "With the news of Lance's deception, we feel cheated and also resentful that we were used to unknowingly continue the fraud." She said they believe there may be grounds for a class action lawsuit and wondered if there are any attorneys working on LiveStrong litigation due to Lance's fraud. (I'm still trying to find out so please email me if you have information on this.) Today's news reports indicate that this sad story is not an isolated case and that Lance's kingdom is quickly crumbling...

Two huge signs that Lance's kingdom is in crisis management mode include news that he stepped down today as chairman of LiveStrong and Nike has come out in a statement saying they were deceived and they no longer support Lance. He's essentially off both payrolls. Here are some quotes from USA Today:

If anyone still believes Lance Armstrong didn't cheat and didn't take drugs, you are now officially notified that he did. You don't have to take the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's word for it, or all his fellow cyclists', or the mountains of evidence against him – just take Nike's.

Nike knows. Lance did it.

That's why it dumped him this morning. If the company wasn't so sure, it would still be standing by him.

When Nike drops an athlete, you know he or she has done something terribly, irreparably wrong. That's because it has supported, defended and continued to pay all kinds of athletes in trouble, among them Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre.

But this morning, Nike released a stunning statement, saying it has been "misled" by Armstrong:

"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner."

What a morning this is. It's sad and tragic for the millions of cancer survivors, victims and their families whom he deceived for more than a decade, those who hoped and prayed he was telling the truth because he was such an icon to them.
Yes, sad and tragic is right. Tragic for many people who were hurt by his fraud including athletes who raced without breaking the rules and would have won the Tour de France or had much better careers if it wasn't for the widspread doping that Lance played a big role in orchestrating. Sad for donors and cancer victims who believed in him and got inspiration from him and didn't realize his life was a massive lie. Sad for his family and, especially, his kids who will have to reconcile this fraud for the rest of their lives. Sad for Lance too since he must be either a very miserable person or living completely out of touch with reality in a cold, cruel world that I can't imagine.

On the other hand, there is a lot to be happy about. I'm happy for the people Lance tried to quiet over the years and who now are getting some closure to his abuse. I'm happy for the people Lance sued when they claimed he doped who may be able to get their millions back from him. I'm also happy that more people won't think a fairy tale is reality and that Lance won't get away with taking more from others. I'm also happy that light is shining brightly on the doping problem in pro cycling so that this great sport may get its act together and become something more than cycling's equivalent of World Wide Wrestling.

Time will tell if the sport will do what is necessary to clean up its act. It won't be trivial and unless I see the top leaders in the sport (e.g., the UCI and the team managers) get booted, conflicts of interest get eliminated (e.g., the UCI should be independent from doping controls) and sanctions for doping get more serious (e.g., criminal penalties), we will be talking about the same problems in another decade.

By the way, please shoot me an email or make a comment below f you are aware of any class action lawsuits against LiveStrong that this couple should know about. I'm not an attorney so I don't know if there are grounds for a lawsuit but I'll pass on the information to her if there are.

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