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Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Lance Armstrong's tarnished legacy

By espnW

What does Lance Armstrong stepping down as chairman of Livestrong and Nike terminating his endorsement deal mean to his legacy?

Armstrong carries baggage

By Bonnie D. Ford

The release of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's damning report on Armstrong's leading role in organized doping on his teams forced the apparel giant's hand in a way most athlete misconduct has not. However, Nike is still in the midst of a five-year deal with Livestrong to donate $7.5 million annually in merchandise profits, so there won't be a total separation.

And that is the greater point. For now, Armstrong will remain on the board of the foundation he created, and in my opinion, his narrative is inextricable from the foundation's image, mission and finances even if he were to formally sever that tie. Many of Armstrong's sponsors are also corporate partners of Livestrong's. His statement did not address whether he is still being paid for his association with the for-profit site owned by Demand Media.

Armstrong's announcement today was designed to stop the bleeding, but I'm skeptical it will. The formerly safe haven of his charity work looks increasingly perilous from a personal standpoint. What activities can he participate in and what advice can he give without bringing tremendous baggage with him?

In a tight economic environment in which people have to choose their philanthropic options carefully -- and in which there are many organizations trying to attack cancer from different angles -- my take is the foundation will have to work to keep its donors from defecting. And the way Livestrong's story plays out will have an impact on the way history regards Armstrong.

A decade of lying and cheating

By Kate Fagan

Lance Armstrong's legacy is that of a liar and a cheater. The lying and the cheating are so intertwined that, at this point, it's hard to say which he has done more of: lying or cheating.

Wednesday's news is basically just the exclamation point at the end of the sentence -- most free-thinking adults had already accepted the fact Armstrong was never who he said he was. Still, I was glad to see Nike finally follow through on what needed to be done and also glad to see Armstrong would no longer be the chairman of Livestrong, an organization that doesn't actually provide funding for cancer research, as millions of people still believe. Even so, Livestrong does plenty to support and educate people about cancer, and the foundation doesn't need the distraction that now comes along with Armstrong's presence.

Today, all that remains in this saga is an admission from Armstrong himself. But will we ever actually receive that from him? I don't know. It seems he has reached a place -- after more than a decade of lying and cheating -- where he has convinced himself the lies are the truth. He has changed history … inside of his own mind, at least.

Of course, no one else is fooled.

The final nail in the coffin

By Amanda Rykoff

It's a sad day when the decision of a shoe company ultimately serves as the final word in an athlete's legacy, but here we are. Nike's decision to terminate its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong over the doping allegations against the seven-time Tour de France winner represents the final nail in the coffin of the Lance Armstrong brand. RIP.

Lance Armstrong
Nike ended its endorsement deal with Lance Armstrong, but will still contribute to his Livestrong charity.

Armstrong's legacy is tarnished forever. His Livestrong brand represented not just athletic achievement, but overcoming insurmountable odds to achieve that success. With the USADA's release of evidence against Armstrong showing sophisticated and longstanding doping which helped Armstrong gain a competitive advantage in cycling, the athletic success upon which the Livestrong brand was built has been forever tainted.

The work Armstrong did to raise money and cancer awareness through his Livestrong Foundation will always remain. Credit him for using his success to do good. But with the dissolution of his relationship with Nike and the information we now have about how Armstrong built his brand, the days of the ubiquitous yellow Livestrong wristbands should be behind us.

Two sides to the story

By Melissa Jacobs

The legacy of Lance Armstrong will be one the most divisive in history because of the disparity of the lenses through which he is viewed. Nike dropping Armstrong is a big deal, but it is his stepping down from Livestrong that provides the truly emotional reaction.

There are the loyal Armstrong devotees, those who believe the doping charges aimed against him are 100 percent false. Oftentimes those people are living with cancer or know someone who is. They find great strength in Livestrong and all its inherent messages of living life to the fullest. They ride the Livestrong races; they make frequent donations and find Armstrong (and his foundation) inspiring on the same level as Mother Teresa. Because of the astronomical cancer rates, this is an enormous group.

On the flip side, there is the group that has always considered Armstrong a fraud and Livestrong a fraudulent organization. They are angered by articles like Bill Gifford's from the February edition of Outside Magazine, which alleges Livestrong donates next to nothing to actual cancer research. They see a Livestrong fitness brand and a Livestrong stadium in Kansas City and wonder how much of the organization's funds are used to advance Armstrong's personal wealth and battle against doping charges.

Today's news will only entrench the positions of both camps.

Legacy transcends rules of corruption

By Adena Andrews

Legacy is defined as something "received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past." A legacy is a combination of all the things you have done and how you will be remembered. Lance Armstrong and his legacy are much more than what he did on his bike and his recent violations. His story of struggle touched lives in ways no one had done before.

My grandmother, who didn't watch a lick of sports, worshipped Armstrong because he was the face of cancer -- a disease she was also battling. She felt a kinship with Armstrong as he battled cancer only to tackle the Pyrenees months later. If he could tackle such an amazing feat, she could certainly defeat cancer to be there for her family.

Whether or not he doped really doesn't matter. His legacy transcends the rules of the corrupt sport of cycling. He gave people something to believe in, and that's something no committee can take away from him.