Disgraced cycling star Lance Armstrong has stepped down from the board of the cancer-fighting Livestrong charity he founded 15 years ago in the wake of a huge doping scandal.
Armstrong voluntarily resigned from the board on November 4, nearly three weeks after he stepped down as chairman, his replacement said in a statement provided to AFP on Monday.
He did so “to spare the organization any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding his cycling career,” chairman Jeff Garvey said.
Armstrong has not completely severed ties with the foundation but “his visibility will be reduced,” added communications chief Katherine McLane.
“Although he has no formal leadership role with the organization and the foundation is focusing on elevating the voices and stories of survivors all around the world not just a single individual, he is still the foundation’s creator,” she said in a telephone interview.
“We count on him to remain active in the cancer cause, whether that’s with the foundation or whatever form he chooses his advocacy to take.”
Armstrong was issued a life ban and stripped of seven Tour de France titles in August by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which last month revealed 1,000 pages of evidence against him, including testimony from 11 former teammates.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) backed the USADA decision to effectively erase Armstrong’s cycling record, including the seven Tour de France titles he won from 1999 to 2005, after a lengthy investigation.
Armstrong also faces legal actions which could see him required to return millions in prize money and bonus payments. He could also be stripped of the time-trial bronze medal he won at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
However, the foundation said his legacy of helping cancer patients after surviving a battle with testicular cancer remains intact.
“Lance Armstrong was instrumental in changing the way the world views people affected by cancer,” Garvey said, adding the foundation is “deeply grateful” for Armstrong’s “devotion to serving survivors.”
The Armstrong family has donated nearly $7 million to the foundation and helped it raise nearly $500 million over the past 15 years.
“We are proud of Lance’s indelible contributions to the global effort to eradicate cancer and his on-going personal commitment to improving the lives of its survivors,” Garvey said.
“The Foundation will continue to grow its free services for cancer survivors, advocate on their behalf and fulfill the mission Lance created 15 years ago.”