Posted by Editoress on 01/26/12
In the latest edition of the American publication Outside, writer Bill Gifford has a piece that is creating a stir. Called It's Not About the Lab Rats, the feature article investigates the relationship between Lance Armstrong and his cancer foundation, Livestrong.
Gifford points out that, contrary to what many people believe, Livestrong does not fund research - it has been phasing out that side of its program since 2005, and stopped accepting proposals in 2010. What Livestrong does do, is provide support services; such as helping cancer sufferers access resources, develop financial plans and negotiate through the healthcare system. These services, as Gifford admits, are in short supply, and that Livestrong is providing a valuable service.
Lance Armstrong holding a press conference before the start of the 2010 5th stage of the ATOC
He also states that every investigation undertaken supports Armstrong's contention that he (Armstrong, personally) has never taken monies from the foundation for his personal use or expenses. However, Gifford suggests that the foundation (and Armstrong) continue to perpetuate the myth that they are fighting cancer, at the research level, and that this fallacy helps raise money for Livestrong.
Further, Gifford suggests that Livestrong helps to burnish Armstrong's image, very helpful now that he has left cycling, and is fighting allegations of a systematic program of doping. Gifford provides facts and figures showing that Armstrong receives significant fees for his appearances at events, such as rides and speaking engagements.
In the article, Gifford says "In a sense, Livestrong and Lance are like conjoined twins, each depending on the other for survival. Separating them - or even figuring out where one ends and the other begins - is no small task. The foundation is a major reason why sponsors are attracted to Armstrong; as his agent Bill Stapleton put it in 2001, his survivor story “broadened and deepened the brand ... and then everybody wanted him.” But the reverse is also true: Without Lance, Livestrong would be just another cancer charity scrapping for funds."
Further on, he is even more blunt: "Armstrong benefits from his foundation in another, less tangible way: everything he does in connection with Livestrong gets him good press, diluting the flow of scandal stories."
Already, the article has generated huge press - CBC Radio's flagship national morning show - Q - had Bill Gifford on this morning for a nearly 30 minute discussion, and the article has been referenced in most major news sources.
In the end - like most things involving Lance Armstrong - It's Not About the Lab Rats provides yet another complex and confusing glimpse at a man that is a hero to many, and considered the worst kind of cheater by others.
Read the full Bill Gifford article from Outside magazine Here.
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