Last week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a 1,000 page report about Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal. Armstrong has been accused of using performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career. As a result, the USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life. Armstong is one of cycling’s greatest athletes as well as the founder of Livestrong, his nonprofit that supports cancer patients. Armstrong is a cancer survivor too. With all the controversy surrounding him, one can only wonder what will happen to Lance Aemstrong and his reputation.
Armstrong has strongly denied using any illegal substances and has passed drug tests before. From a public relations viewpoint, the main thing Armstrong shouldn’t do is lie. Lying will only cause more damage to his credibility and will break the trust he has with fans. If the accusations are false, Armstrong should explain why. If they turn out to be true, he needs to apologize immediately. Right now, nothing is definite. The International Cycling Union will rule by October 31st to determine if the USADA’s findings are accurate. Until then, I would suggest Mr. Armstrong focuses on his charity, which has not suffered at all since the scandal broke.
My biggest issue with this situation is how it will affect the Livestrong organization. I wear a Livestrong band around my wrist everyday and have had people associate it with Armstrong. One of my friends even asked if I was still going to wear it after this news broke. I wear the band because my grandfather wore it until the day he died from cancer. It has nothing to do with Armstrong but because he created the band, it is immediately associated with him. My fear is that a great charity will suffer because of one person’s actions. So far, there is not any indication of that.
It’s almost every day that we read about a professional athlete involved in some type of scandal. Possibly hundreds of baseball players have been accused of using steroids while football players are shooting themselves outside of nightclubs. These athletes forget that they are role models for children and even adults. If society condones their actions, then will children think it acceptable to do the same? Please let me know what you think!
UPDATE: This morning, Lance Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation. He explained that he does not want the charity to suffer because of his current situation. Additionally, Nike ended its contact as Armstrong’s sponsor, citing “insurmountable evidence” that Armstrong participated in dopping. It appears that Armstrong’s PR problem has just gotten bigger. Losing sponsors does not help his plea of innocence nor does him stepping down. However, by stepping down, he’s showing that his charity is important and shouldn’t suffer because of his actions. Please share your thoughts with me!