Lance Armstrong stands down as chairman of Livestrong

Lance Armstrong has stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation, a charity campaigning for cancer sufferers internationally, following his involvement in a doping scandal in his cycling career.

Making a statement this afternoon, Armstrong said he was standing down in order to "spare the Foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career", although he will continue to be involved in an unofficial capacity.

In an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency Armstrong and his teammates were found to have undertaken "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen". The Agency stripped the record-breaking cyclist of his medals and penalised him with a lifetime ban from competition last week.

Seven consecutive Tour de France wins Armstrong and his achievements in the charity and healthcare worlds had awarded Armstrong hero status for over a decade. He launched the Livestrong Foundation in 1996 while still receiving treatment for testicular cancer. 

Announcing his departure from the charity, Armstrong said: "It has been a great privilege to help grow it from a dream into an organization that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors. This organisation, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart.

"I am deeply grateful to the people of the foundation who have done such hard and excellent work over the last 15 years, building tangible and effective ways to improve the lives of cancer survivors. And I am deeply humbled by the support our foundation has received from so many people throughout the world – survivors, world leaders, business leaders and of course, the cancer community itself."   

The Livestrong Foundation has raised close to $500m since its launch, some of which contributes to campaigning efforts around the world, as well as in the US, where the charity is based. Livestrong is spearheading a campaign to encourage countries around the world to improve understanding of the disease through its Patient Empowerment Initiative, that draws on survivors' knowledge to create more rigorous national cancer control strategies.

Armstrong's duties will now transfer to vice chairman Jeff Garvey, who will take his as chairman. Garvey has been with the foundation for 15 years and was the founding chairman.

Meanwhile international sporting gear company Nike has announced that it has dropped Armstrong as an ambassador for its brand. The organisation runs a line of clothing which raises money for the Livestrong Foundation. In a statement Nike said:

"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.

"Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."

This article was taken from www.civilsociety.co.uk – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/13585/