Livestrong Foundation: Disappointed but Moving on (Updated)
(Updated at 10:40 a.m. to include Livestrong Foundation's CEO comments on The Today Show.)
The Livestrong Foundation—the Austin-based non-profit that Lance Armstrong founded to help people battling cancer—has been a major part of the conversation in the fallout surrounding the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's report on Armstrong's doping. Now, it's also a player after Armstrong's confession.
The Livestrong Foundation released a statement following the first part of Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The statement says employees are disappointed that Armstrong misled them during and after his cycling career. But it also says employees accept Armstrong’s apology from earlier this week and want to move on. The statement says while Armstrong is no longer part of the Livestrong board, the staff will always be grateful for his creation of the foundation.
In October, USADA released its full report against Armstrong. That same month, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the board. In November, he resigned from the board altogether.
Then, in an apparent effort to further distance itself from its founder, the organization that had been the Lance Armstrong Foundation, officially changed its name to the Livestrong Foundation.
Armstrong spent so many years sporting yellow wristbands and touting the foundation that many people will probably never separate the man from the foundation. But Livestrong insists its success has never been based on one person.
Update: Doug Ulman is the CEO of the Livestrong Foundation and is described as Armstrong’s longtime friend. He told NBC’s Matt Lauer this morning on The Today Show that even he didn’t know the truth about Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs until the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released its case.
"You know, I think the intensity over the last year as it picked up… did thoughts wander into my mind? Of course. But October was the point in time when I think we all came to that realization," Ulman said.
Here's the Livestrong Foundation's full statement:
“We at the LIVESTRONG Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us. Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course. We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer.
“Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community. Lance is no longer on the Foundation’s board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful to him for creating and helping to build a Foundation that has served millions struggling with cancer.
“The LIVESTRONG Foundation is one of the most highly-rated and effective cancer organizations in the United States. Our success has never been based on one person – it’s based on the patients and survivors we serve every day, who approach a cancer diagnosis with hope, courage and perseverance. We listened to their needs and took action to create free cancer support services that offer access to clinical trials, fertility preservation, insurance coverage and even transportation to treatment. People living with and through cancer are the inspiration behind our work. They have been, are and always will be our focus.”