Will we see backlash against a major charitable organisation, one that does so much good in the world in regards to supporting those with cancer, following the naming of Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat.
Scanning through the comments on the Livestrong site there are both supporters , the trolls who can’t resist a good party and those who are disgusted that the head of such a wonderful organisation, promoting health, should be deemed to have used performance enhancing drugs. This does not align with the mission of Livestrong which immediately poses problems in regards to authenticity.
As an avid lover of the Tour de France and a recreational cyclist myself, it brings me great sadness to consider that doping has occurred in this great challenge. There is another whole blog I could write about the need to win overriding the need to do it without the assistance of drugs, but today I am concerned with reputation.
The Tour is about endurance, how long will this taint on Lance’s reputation endure?
Lance himself claims he is innocent, but does not want to fight the charges. With evidence from 26 people including 11 of his own teammates, it is not a good situation to be in and Lance is sure to find that his reputation will suffer from this. Why he doesn’t want to fight it – that is his business, perhaps living strong now, having survived cancer means more to him than dredging up the past. Hopefully the good he has done in inspiring other cancer sufferers to fight on will be enough to carry him forward.
However it is not just Lance’s personal reputation at stake. These accusations reflect badly upon the Livestrong foundation itself and all those who support him and work closely with him. There will have to be considerations and deliberations made with any organisation with links to him – analysis of any potential backlash vs positive benefits. Unfortunately negative fallout from this will “live strong” on the web forever and work will need to be done to gain the forgiveness of the public. The pride surrounding the Tour is such that many may never forgive.
Some might say that he has well and truly made up for indiscretions through the creation of Livestrong and the positive legacy concerning his fight against cancer; and I am certain fellow cancer suffers will rally behind him (and it appears so, as has his sponsor Nike) ; but no one likes a cheat and that is mud that sticks.
Ethically can one then say that we can excuse cheating because of the other good which has been done? However has the organisation in a way been built around a lie? If we excuse a cheat once, then how can we not excuse cheats forever? It is indeed a difficult situation. It would have been best to have a definitive response. Fight for innocence or admit to having taken performance enhancing drugs and then allow all to move forward. What feels wrong is that once Lance stated that all he needed to beat cancer and return to cycling better than ever was will, moxie and hard work – but for those who put so much belief into him, did he also omit another ingredient which may have been essential to him winning? We may never know.
Perhaps we really are up to the stage when we just shrug our shoulders and say “whatever” because here is a man who was an inspiration to so many that we really can say “its in the past”. Perhaps we also could say that his indiscretions related to his career, but his survival of cancer was the next chapter and we read the story only from there.
The issues are more complex than this blog. Perhaps the case for Livestrong is unique given it’s charitable work, many a fine organisation would not withstand this kind of media attention. Consider it was the Chair of another major charity accused of wrong doing, one who was not an athlete, would a different type of cheating be forgiven?. Will the charity now perhaps come under closer scrutiny?
Generally would you trust someone who cheated? Does the good always conquer the bad?
We would love to know your thoughts.
Fiona Lucas is the founder of iRespectOnline. She is passionate about helping small businesses to grow, thrive and build reputation online. Fiona is an ethical marketer providing bespoke online marketing strategies to enable businesses to leverage social media for growth. Underpinning everything she does, as Australia’s first online reputation evangelist she is passionate about driving social change towards a more respectful online environment.
She was named in Mamamia’s Top 50 women to watch online 2013, Finalist Geelong Small Business Awards 2017 – Social Media Influencer and is a virtual community manager for Social Media Marketing World. Fiona presents on digital futures, cybersafety and digital marketing.
Fiona is the author of Futureproof Your Kids – a parents guide to the social media playground.