Lance Armstrong: Hero or Villain?

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In the wake of an investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accuses Armstrong of years of deception and drug-use that is corroborated by testimony from 26 people including 15 other cyclists, his sponsors have been faced with the question of taking sides. Will they stand beside Lance Armstrong as the hero in sports and against cancer he has previously been, or withdraw their support and condemn him as the doping villain he is now accused to be?

Armstrong himself set a sacrificial example on October 17th by stepping down as the chairman of the charity he founded in 1997, Livestrong. He will remain on the board, but hopes to avoid any negative impact of the accusations against him on the nonprofit’s work for cancer. Nike, who had previously affirmed their support for Armstrong in the first round of allegations opted to remove their sponsorship from Armstrong as an individual, but to continue to support Livestrong as an organization. Anheuser-Busch followed suit when Armstrong’s contract concludes at the end of the year. Trek Bicycles and the energy drink producer FRS were reported by ESPN to

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have withdrawn their support from the athlete. Oakley has their sponsorship under review. Meanwhile, Radioshack has chosen the hero side, and continues to sponsor both Armstrong and Livestrong.

The determining party, the International Cycling Union, has not ruled on the case yet, and will either decide to ban Armstrong for life, and strip him of his seven tour de France titles or bring the case to the Court Arbitration for Sport. Meanwhile, supporters of Livestrong appear to have decided. Contributions to the charity, founded by Armstrong in 1997 have been up around 2% from this time last year. While the ruling is in progress, it will remain to be seen which side the rest of sports fans around the nation choose. Lance Armstrong: Hero or Villain?

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