For Lance Armstrong, few weeks can have been as testing. His decision not to contest the charges brought against him by USADA means Armstrong will lose his titles, prestige, reputation and the respect of many in the sporting community.
Rumours have dogged Amstrong for much of his career. One by one, former associates, teammates, managers, doctors and staff have turned against him, making claims that have dismantled his legacy piece by piece. His past was always going to catch up with him – but the decision not to contest the charges at this moment has allowed Armstrong to manage and contain the damage. He’s still never failed a drugs test. He never said he’s guilty, he’s only walking away from the fight. Claims that the Lance Armstrong brand is “finished” (The Drum) are way too premature, and ignoring the sheer size and scale of the brand he has created – Livestrong.
On the day of his announcement, donations to the charity tripled. Nike – who are experts in crises management when one of their key assets goes off the rails – will continue to market the Livestrong brand. The bike manufacturer Trek – who provided him with race winning machines throughout his 7 Tour de France victories – will maintain their support. Livestrong has transcended from a charity into a brand in its own right. Oakley will continue to develop eyewear featuring his image.
This is not John Terry and front page tabloid antics. However unpalatable the end to Armstrong’s cycling career, the Livestrong brand will come through the storm and continue to flourish.
Finished? I think Armstrong is just getting started.