Lance Armstrong is renowned for being an accomplished cyclist and powerful cancer survivor. Accordingly, Armstrong founded LIVESTRONG, an organization established to help other cancer survivors. Recently, due to accusations that he used a sophisticated doping mechanism to gain an edge (and avoid testing positive for drugs) to win his seven Tour de France medals, he stepped down as the LIVESTRONG chairman. This decision came on the heels of news that he’d be stripped of his medals and his Nike endorsements. And this, after people lost a lot of respect for him.
Old news, right? Maybe.
Two things are of interest to us, from a crisis public relations perspective: 1) was is the right move for Armstrong to stop fighting against the charges; and 2) should he have stepped down from the cancer-fighting organization he founded?
Several folks have commented on his decision to not fight the doping charges. Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a sports management professor at George Washington University has said that, economically speaking, Armstrong made a wise choice. Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz said Armstrong’s decision not to fight the charges is an admission of his guilt.
But was the decision to leave LIVESTRONG the right choice? One Huffington Post article sums up the strategy:
“Armstrong strongly denies doping, but did not fight USADA accusations through arbitration, saying he thinks the process is unfair. Once Armstrong gave up the fight in August and the report came out, crisis management experts predicted the future of the foundation, known mainly by its Livestrong brand name, would be threatened. They said Armstrong should consider stepping down to keep the charity from getting dragged into a debate over doping.”
The statement about his decision to step aside as chairmen, which was released on the LIVESTRONG blog, is brilliant. It is perfect. It is classic. The message is masterfully crafted.
Fortunately, he will remain on the organization’s board; he’ll also remain an advocate for cancer issues. Still, we can’t help but wonder whether he should have remained at the helm of the organization he created.
Share your thoughts with us. Did Armstrong make the right decisions?