Lance Armstrong is to take part in the 2015 Livestrong Challenge ride in Austin, Texas in October reports The Guardian. Armstrong founded and was later pressured to leave the charity, but Livestrong officials say they welcome his fundraising efforts. Elsewhere, the organisers of an Irish charity ride are concerned that photos of Armstrong wearing one of their T-shirts may do more harm than good.
The Livestrong Challenge has been running for 19 years, but this will be the first time Armstrong has taken part since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from official competition.
Livestrong saw a significant drop in donations in 2013 and it is believed that the disgraced cyclist’s admission that he used performance enhancing drugs during his career had a major impact, despite his no longer sitting on the organisation’s board. Donations were down by 34 per cent to $15m from almost $23m the year before and total revenue was also down with a number of commercial sponsors either cancelling or not renewing.
However, in a statement to the Associated Press, Livestrong spokeswoman, Ellen Barry, said of Armstrong’s involvement in the 100-mile charity ride.
"We welcome all contributions to the Livestrong Foundation as we continue our work to improve the lives of people affected by cancer now. This includes the recent contribution by Lance Armstrong. He has signed up to ride in our annual event with his own team as the ride is open to participants nationwide."
Armstrong, like all cancer survivors, will receive a yellow rose when he crosses the finish line. He is currently the third-highest fundraiser for the event with $5,995 – a sum which includes his own $5,000 donation to himself.
Meanwhile, independent.ie reports that the organisers of Cycle Ataxia are concerned that photos of Armstrong in one of their T-shirts may do more harm than good.
Cycle Ataxia is a charity ride in aid of Ataxia Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association and the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance. Barry Rice, who manages the event, contacted Armstrong and asked him to wear one of the group’s tops to raise awareness for an upcoming fundraiser, but is now questioning the wisdom of this.
“I asked him to wear the T-shirt because I thought it would do good for the event but I never realised just how much hate there was for Armstrong. My predicament is, if I use the image to promote us, will it do more harm than good?”
While describing Armstrong as ‘a bare-faced liar’ Rice also says that there is another side to him, one that has helped raise millions for cancer charities. “Honestly, I think there’s two sides Armstrong; the hero and villain. And I don’t know which the public will respond to.”