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Livestrong Foundation charts post-Armstrong course

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013
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The charity will monitor the sales of the bracelets this year to see if fundraising will be affected by Armstrong's departure, she said. Though she didn't have immediate figures, she noted that sales of the bracelets peaked in the few years after their launch.

"The foundation is charting its own course without the founder since its inception," she said in an interview. "It's a challenge. It might be a rocky road in 2013. But we are thinking in terms of the next five years."

There has been no indication, she said, that donors are distancing themselves from the charity, which raised $48 million in 2012. That was 2 or 3 percent less than fundraising in 2011 but consistent with slight dropoffs other foundations saw in a still-struggling economy, she said.

The cyclist created the organization — originally called the Lance Armstrong Foundation — in Austin, Texas, in 1997 while he was being treated for testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. Doctors gave him 50-50 odds of surviving.

Throughout his career, Armstrong always denied drug use, but earlier this year, he admitted during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

He told Winfrey that leaving Livestrong was the most "humbling" experience after the revelations about his drug use broke.

"I wouldn't at all say forced out, told to leave," he told Winfrey about Livestrong. "I was aware of the pressure. But it hurt like hell.

"That was the lowest," Armstrong said. "The lowest."

In an interview later Thursday, Miller said Armstrong wasn't formally asked to resign after admitting the use of performance-enhancing drugs. It wasn't even clear, he added, that there was a provision in the organization's bylaws to ask the founder to leave.

"It ultimately had to be his decision," he said.

During his time as chairman, Armstrong was the biggest single donor to the foundation, and Miller declined to say if Armstrong might continue to contribute or whether — at some point — he could be asked to play a role in the charity again.

But when asked if Livestrong would ever seek a new celebrity to be its face, he was quick to answer.

"No. ... We won't go that route," he said. "It's risky for any organization to have one person as a spokesman — to put all your eggs in one basket. If something happens to that person, you're in trouble."

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Follow Michael Tarm at www.twitter.com/mtarm.