Less than a month after stepping down as chairman, Lance Armstrong quietly has resigned altogether from the board of the foundation that he founded 15 years ago.
The former cycling champion resigned as chairman of the board on Oct. 17, replaced by founding chairman Jeff Garvey, and yesterday Garvey announced that Armstrong voluntarily resigned from the Lance Armstrong Foundations’ board “to spare the organization any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding his cycling career.” In a 200-word statement, Garvey thanked Armstrong for “changing the way the world views people affected by cancer,” as well as for his devotion to serving survivors and commitment to the cause.
Armstrong made his decision Nov. 4 but there was no press release or official announcement from the organization. His resignation was not widely reported for several days, only after a Bloomberg reporter inquired about his status with the charity.
After much deliberation, Armstrong decided that resigning from the board would be in the best interest of the organization, according to Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane. Asked how Armstrong will be involved with the foundation going forward, McLane said he wouldn’t have a formal leadership role but the organization would "welcome his continued leadership" in raising money and awareness about cancer.
Armstrong, 41, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, beating the disease and starting the foundation in 1998 before going on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a report last month that included damning testimony from former teammates that many within U.S. cycling, including Armstrong, engaged in doping. Armstrong has continually denied the allegations but was stripped of his seven titles and several sponsors, including Nike, severed ties with him, though not with the charity.
The Austin, Texas-based foundation is more commonly known as Livestrong after a branding effort several years ago. The charity skyrocketed to fame after the wild success of yellow, Livestrong bracelets in 2004, selling more than 80 million. Over the years, Armstrong has donated nearly $7 million to the organization, Garvey said, and the foundation has raised nearly $500 million.
Fundraising hasn’t been hurt yet by the rash of media reports since the USADA released its evidence in August. Livestrong has reported that donations are up about 3 percent since Aug. 23, and the number of donations are up more than 7 percent, compared to 2011. The number of donations are up about 15 percent since Armstrong resigned as chairman last month while the total raised is up about 2 percent compared to the same time last year.