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Livestrong 'Disappointed' By Lance Armstrong, But Still Grateful To Him

Jan 18, 2013
Originally published on January 18, 2013 5:09 pm

After Part 1 of cyclist Lance Armstrong's confession about doping aired Thursday night on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the Livestrong cancer charity he helped found released a statement that says, in part:

"We at the LIVESTRONG Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us. Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course. We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer.

"Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community. Lance is no longer on the Foundation's board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful to him for creating and helping to build a Foundation that has served millions struggling with cancer."

Krishnadev live blogged for us during the Oprah broadcast Thursday night. Part 2 airs tonight (and will be webcast) at 9 p.m. ET. We're planning to live blog during that as well.

As for some of the after-interview reports about what Armstrong had to say, here's a sampling:

-- "We knew what was coming on Monday. That's when Armstrong and Winfrey taped the 2 1/2 hour interview, and when leaks about a confession killed some of the buzz leading up to last night. But still, after all the angry noes, it was startling, finally, to hear Lance Armstrong say yes, so many times." (NPR's Tom Goldman, on Morning Edition)

-- "Right from the start and more than two dozen times ... the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time." (ESPN.com)

-- "Appearing somber but clear-eyed during the 90-minute broadcast, Armstrong, 41, admitted to taking illegal performance enhancers EPO and testosterone, and to transfusing his own blood — all of which he referred to as his 'cocktail' — during the course of winning an unprecedented seven Tours, from 1999 to 2005. 'I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated lots of times,' he said." (Bicycling magazine)

-- "Armstrong described himself as an arrogant bully, someone who needed to be in control. He said his behavior was ridiculous as he lied and covered up the evidence that he used a 'cocktail' of drugs to become one of the most recognized athletes on the planet. 'I see the anger in people and the betrayal,' Armstrong told interviewer Oprah Winfrey. ... 'It's all there with the people who supported me, believed in me. They have every right to feel betrayed. It's my fault. I'll spend rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people for the rest of my life.' " (Austin's American-Statesman)

Note: That's just a question, not a scientific survey of public opinion.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Last night, a confession that surprised few finally came.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER")

OPRAH WINFREY: Yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

LANCE ARMSTRONG: Yes.

HOST: That's Lance Armstrong with Oprah Winfrey during the primetime special. Armstrong admitted that the allegations he aggressively fought against for over a decade were true. The now-disgraced, seven-time Tour de France winner acknowledged that he has both disappointed and angered many, many people.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER")

ARMSTRONG: And they have every right to feel betrayed and it's my fault. And, you know, I have - I will spend the rest of my life, you know, some people will go on forever. But I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people for the rest of my life.

HOST: Some of those people are on the staff of Livestrong. That's the cancer foundation started by Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer. Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman joins us once again. And first, I'm curious, do you feel betrayed?

DOUG ULMAN: You know, Robert, I am at a place now where, as hard as it was to watch last night and as hard as it was to see Lance come to the foundation earlier this week, I'm at a place where I have accepted his apology to the team here. And in order for us to further our mission and continue to move forward, that was a necessary step.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

But you seem to face a problem here. The foundation obviously benefited from the very positive image of Lance Armstrong some years ago. Now that that image is, to put it mildly, tarnished and quite negative, doesn't that have consequences for the foundation as well?

ULMAN: Well, you know, as you well know, we as an organization have been sort of operating with this cloud, so to speak, for several years. You know, Lance obviously founded the organization. And his story, his cancer journey, resonated with millions of people. And the Livestrong Foundation and Livestrong Movement is now at a point where it is moved beyond any one individual, and it's about literally millions of people who, unfortunately, are facing or have faced this illness themselves.

SIEGEL: Just this week, the Major League Soccer franchise in Kansas City, Sporting Kansas City, ended its contract with you, removing the name Livestrong from its stadium. That suggests the team believe that the taint of this scandal outweighs the good that would be associated with it. Are you concerned that they're not the only people who hold that belief now?

ULMAN: Well, obviously, given the attention, you know, I think there will be some who question the relationship with the organization. I mean, we have to be realistic about the challenges that we will face. And yet at the same time, this week, we had a recommitment from our great partners at Nike. And so on the surface there might be some negative news or connotations. Ultimately, I think, there's a lot of opportunity ahead.

SIEGEL: You spoke with my colleague, Melissa Block, on this program back in October. And you said that in all your time running the foundation, you never asked Armstrong whether he took performance-enhancing drugs. Do you now regret never having asked him that?

ULMAN: You know, I don't know, Robert. I thought a lot about that, and that's a difficult question. But I didn't come to Austin, Texas, or to this organization because of cycling. I'm not a cyclist. But it just didn't have a bearing on the day-to-day work of the organization until more recently.

SIEGEL: But didn't it have a bearing on it in the sense that if much of this was true that was being said about him, that Livestrong - Armstrong and, perhaps, Livestrong with it were riding for a fall and that there could be disastrous consequences for the institution?

ULMAN: You know, I think that was raised on occasion externally. But we operate at such a start-up environment, and we were growing so fast, and we were pursuing so many opportunities, and we were just busy fulfilling our mission. And it just didn't cross my mind that that was something that truly impacted the work of the organization.

SIEGEL: As you know, there's another night of Oprah Winfrey and Lance Armstrong. First of all, are you going to watch and are you concerned that there might be still more cause for upset, anger, or a sense of betrayal in what you hear?

ULMAN: Well, I'll definitely watch because it's important to me and to the organization. And I think it's going to take a while for people of all walks of life to process this. But ultimately, come Tuesday, this foundation is going to be, again, 100 percent focused on fulfilling our mission of serving those with cancer.

SIEGEL: Mr. Ulman, thanks a lot for talking with us today.

ULMAN: Thank you so much.

SIEGEL: That's Doug Ulman, the CEO of Livestrong, the foundation created by Lance Armstrong, speaking with us about Armstrong's admissions to Oprah Winfrey this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.