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Lance Armstrong enters Livestrong charity cycling event

2/20/2015
Lance Armstrong plans to once again ride for the Livestrong charity he founded. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas -- Lance Armstrong is getting back on his bike, this time to raise money for the charity he founded and was later pressured to leave.

Armstrong has set up a fundraising team for the Livestrong Challenge ride in Austin in October. It will be his first return to the event since 2012, when a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency exposed performance-enhancing drug use by Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team.

Lance Armstrong has registed for the Livestrong Challenge as part of a "Lance & Friends" team that has raised more than $10,000 for the charity.

Armstrong was later stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and pressured to leave the Livestrong board. He was banned for life from official competition.

Armstrong registered for the charity ride and made a $5,000 donation on Feb. 2. He also set up a "Lance & Friends" team that has drawn several longtime Livestrong ride participants and has surpassed $10,000 in total funds raised.

Livestrong officials said they welcome his contribution. Spokeswoman Ellen Barry said he has "no official role with the foundation and there are no plans for him to." The organization, which had informally adopted the Livestrong slogan, changed its name in late 2012.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Armstrong says he remains "humbled and proud" of Livestrong, which he founded in 1997 as the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Armstrong's fame and story as the testicular cancer survivor who won the Tour de France every year from 1999-2005 transformed the foundation small a charity into a $500 million organization with an international brand.

"When I started the Livestrong Foundation 18 years ago, I never dreamed it would realize the growth and success it has achieved," Armstrong said. "I look forward to supporting that effort."

The charity has struggled after Armstrong's cheating was exposed. It reported a large drop in donations and revenue in the year after his downfall.

The Livestrong Challenge ride is the foundation's marquee event and Armstrong used to serve as host and master of ceremonies. Barry said Livestrong officials learned of his return the day he registered for the ride. She said he had not been asked to stay away the past two years.

"We welcome all contributions to the Livestrong Foundation as we continue our work to improve the lives of people affected by cancer now. This includes the recent contribution by Lance Armstrong," Barry said. "He has signed up to ride in our annual event with his own team as the ride is open to participants nationwide."

In his last appearance at the ride, in 2012, Armstrong greeted thousands of cyclists with a short speech at dawn then retreated into privacy. He had stepped down as board chairman a few days earlier.

Earlier this week, Armstrong was hit with a $10 million sanction by an arbitration panel overseeing a long-running dispute with SCA promotions, a Dallas company that had paid him $12 million in bonuses for his Tour de France victories. He also pleaded guilty to a guilty to careless driving charge in Aspen, Colorado, for hitting two parked cars with his SUV, a crash his girlfriend originally tried to take the blame for.

Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press