Yesterday, Lance Armstrong stepped down from the helm of Livestrong, the cancer charity he created years ago (and one responsible for the wristband-awareness trend) after years of fighting doping charges.
In August, Lance Armstrong announced he would no longer be sparring with officials over the doping scandal, and, yesterday, he made the break with Livestrong so the charity could move forward apart from the lengthy dispute. And later in the day yesterday, Nike announced that it was splitting from Armstrong as well after the Livestrong announcement was made.
What the future holds for Armstrong remains to be seen. Although the embattled cyclist plans to hang back at the charity and remain on Livestrong’s board, public relations experts say the cyclist’s ability to serve as a brand’s ambassador has likely been permanently tainted.
CNN spoke with crisis communications expert Howard Bragman, who explained:
“I personally hope that Livestrong is stronger than Lance Armstrong because they have done — and continue to do — amazing work for people with cancer … It doesn’t get any worse than this, OK? … Imagine losing the prestige of all your Tour de France titles, millions in endorsements, stepping down from the organization he loves and founded, that’s been his public mission — and, possibly the worst thing of all, which is public humiliation.”
But while public opinion on Lance Armstrong and his trials and tribulations is mixed, Livestrong’s Doug Ulman says that the athlete’s legacy as an advocate for those with cancer cannot be erased:
“Lance’s devotion to serving others whose lives were irrevocably changed by cancer, as his was, is unsurpassable … We are incredibly proud of his record as an advocate and philanthropist and are deeply grateful that Lance and his family will continue to be actively involved with the Foundation’s advocacy and service work.”
The challenge presented for Livestrong now is to move forward without Lance Armstrong as the integral face of its brand.