Armstrong spoke at Livestrong’s 15th anniversary celebration in Austin, Tex., on Friday night — two days after he stepped down as the charity’s chairman– to appeal to cancer donors.
“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks,” Armstrong acknowledged. “When people ask how I’m doing, I say ‘I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse.’”
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in August, and banned from cycling for life. But it wasn’t until USADA released over 1,000 pages of evidence supporting their decisions to strip and ban Armstrong that many other of his previous supporters began to turn on him.
Nike, which stood by Armstrong during his cycling career (and allegedly paid off a cycling president on his behalf), endorsed him, and supported Livestrong, officially dropped him on Wednesday. Several other companies followed their lead and cut ties with the disgraced former cyclist.
CNN even reported about several Livestrong donors who are angry and feel defrauded. One couple who has raised $200,000 for the charity say they want their money back.
“I feel we were really fooled. We were really hoodwinked,” Connie Roddy told CNN.
The criticism from corporations and individuals isn’t keeping Armstrong from rallying on behalf of Livestrong.
Armstrong talked about the global fight against cancer during his speech. He mentioned the 2.5 million cancer survivors Livestrong has touched, and the half-billion dollars the organization has raised “to fight the disease.”
“This mission is bigger than me. It’s bigger than any individual. There’s 28 million people around the world living with this disease,” Armstrong said.
“Martin Luther King said once, ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’
“Whoever we can serve need infinite hope. The mission absolutely must go on. Thank you so much for your support. We will not be deterred; we will move forward. And we will continue to serve the 28 million people around the world that need us the most.”
Does the evidence that Armstrong allegedly led the most sophisticated doping ring in cycling affect your opinion of him? And if you believe in supporting the fight against cancer and creating cancer awareness, does the evidence against Armstrong keep you from wanting to donate to Livestrong?
Purchases from the Livestrong store and donations to the charity have increased in recent weeks. Will that trend continue? It’s up to individuals to decide that question.Google+