Doping Allegations Could Hurt Armstrong Charity

If doping accusations leveled against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong prove true, his foundation could see donations fall by as much as 20 percent, Bloomberg.com reports.

Since its founding as the Lance Armstrong Foundation more than a decade ago, Austin-based Livestrong, in partnership with sports apparel giant Nike, has sold some 80 million yellow wristbands to raise awareness of cancer and raised some $400 million from supporters. But according to Doug White, academic director at New York University's Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, the charity could see its fundraising revenues fall by as much as $10 million if federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are able to prove that Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs, violating Tour doping rules, "A lot of support this organization gets is peripheral, that is to say they're moved by the moment," White told Bloomberg.com. "Those people will be the most likely to be affected, the most likely to say, 'Whoops, this is not good, I'm going to walk away.'"

Armstrong created the charity in 1997 after having been diagnosed with testicular cancer a year earlier. He returned to professional cycling in 1998, but faced, and successfully deflected, doping accusations shortly after winning the first of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles in 1999. In a 60 Minutes segment that aired May 22, Armstrong's former U.S. Postal Service teammate Tyler Hamilton, who earlier this year returned his 2004 Olympic gold medal after admitting to using performance enhancers, alleged that the Tour champion used erythropoietin, an endurance booster, during the 1999 tour and to prepare for the 2000 and 2001 races. Hamilton also claims to have seen Armstrong transfuse himself with blood during the 2000 campaign.

Despite the allegations, Livestrong supporters remain committed to the charity. Indeed, some observers believe the organization would likely survive any scandal involving its founder, although it would probably mean changes in the way it operates.

In a statement released by the organization, Armstrong told Bloomberg, "The reason the foundation has such strong support is they do great work serving cancer survivors and their families through some of the hardest times of their lives. That dedication is never going to change."

Mason Levinson. "Armstrong Doping Case Seen Costing Cancer Charity $10 Million." Bloomberg.com 06/07/2011.