By Tiffany Miller, Account Supervisor, R&J Public Relations
What happened to you? You’ve fallen from grace faster than the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs this year. Reports of your doping by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency caused you to step down as chairman of Livestrong last week in an attempt to minimize the damage caused to the foundation. This week the International Cycling Union officially stripped you of your 7 Tour de France titles and banned you from the sport that you helped make so popular and that catapulted you to fame. I’d say October isn’t your month.
Your battle with cancer and what many thought of as your amazing comeback from the disease became not only an inspiration to cancer victims but to a nation. Rightfully so, you capitalized on your success and started the Livestrong Foundation, which has done great work but is now unfortunately tainted by your lies.
As you achieved more and more success, you moved from Lance Armstrong the cyclist to Lance Armstrong the brand, boasting endorsement deals from Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Oakley and numerous others. All of those are gone now, and you’re left with a major brand crisis on your hands.
It’s hard to say if you’ll rebound from this, as the dishonesty spans too long and has disappointed so many who have looked to you as an inspiration. As your name and image is stripped from brands that endorsed you for years, the thing that gets me the most is your denial. You vehemently deny ever doping and you initially contested the charges, but backed down in August, dropping the fight to spare your family and your foundation any stress or damage. Well, I’d say that backfired on you, as you continue to make headlines that smear your once good name.
From a communication standpoint, you could have handled this better, Lance. You could have taken a more proactive, honest approach, and had a crisis plan in place for when the news broke, since you knew it would eventually. It always does; just ask Tiger Woods or Michael Vick.