Can Livestrong Survive Without Lance Armstrong? CEO Doug Ulman Speaks

From Fast Company:

Lance Armstrong has resigned as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and Nike has terminated its longtime contract with him. The news comes days after the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s lengthy report included detailed accounts by former teammates that portrayed Armstrong as the ringleader of a doping scheme that lasted for years.

Nike’s statement, posted on its website, said, “Due to 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.”

Armstrong had initially fought the USADA’s charges, but in August, after a judge dismissed his lawsuit against the agency, he announced he would no longer contest them. “I am finished with this nonsense,” he said.

Armstrong’s resignation and Nike’s decision were both announced (this month), but they came about separately in recent days, Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman told me today. On Tuesday, Armstrong told Ulman that he’d decided to resign as chairman of the foundation to avoid being a further distraction from its mission. Although Armstrong will no longer be running the board, he will remain an active member of the Livestrong community. “We are making separation from a governance perspective, for sure” Ulman says. “But he’ll be at our events, and his participation will be significant.” Starting with this weekend’s gala celebrating the foundation’s 15th anniversary. Armstrong will not only be there, he’ll be hosting a dinner for major supporters at his house.

The foundation has been dealing with charges about Armstrong’s alleged doping for years. In the midst of a two-year federal investigation, I asked, “Can Livestrong Survive Lance?” in a story that explored how the non-profit dealt with the controversy surrounding its founder. Armstrong, because of his fame and his own dramatic survival story, was the foundation’s greatest asset, but because of allegations, he was also its greatest risk.

Although its official name is the Lance Armstrong Foundation, it rebranded itself several years ago as Livestrong. That created distance in name only as Armstrong continued to appear at foundation events and as well as cancer conferences, even the Clinton Global Initiative.

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