Livestrong: We will survive!
Chicago - Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong's cancer-fighting charity said Thursday it will survive despite the doping scandal which forced him to step down from the foundation.
"Will the Livestrong Foundation survive? Yes. Absolutely yes. Hell yes," Andy Miller, head of Livestrong operations, said in prepared remarks released ahead of what was billed as a "major" speech.
"Our work is too meaningful, our role too unique, the need too great to stand for any other answer."
Armstrong founded Livestrong in 1997 after he underwent chemotherapy to overcome testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and other parts of his body.
He stepped down first as its chairperson, then from its board of directors last year as the US Anti-Doping Agency, in a damning 1 000-page report, put him at the centre of what it called the biggest doping conspiracy in the annals of cycling.
He visited the staff to formally apologise for letting them down in January ahead of a high-profile interview with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey in which he admitted to doping and said leaving Livestrong was one of the hardest things he had to deal with in the wake of the scandal.
"It was the best thing for the organisation but it hurt like hell," Armstrong said. "That was the lowest."
Livestrong, which has raised more than $500m and served 2.5 million people affected by cancer, said it hopes to expand its services to directly help more than 15 500 cancer survivors a year.
It also hopes to expand the use of its self-navigating tools like a calorie and exercise tracker to 1.5 million users a year, Miller said.
"Our success has never been based on one person - it's based on the patients and survivors we serve every day, who approach a cancer diagnosis with hope, courage and perseverance," Miller said at the foundation's annual meeting in Chicago.
"Resiliency is the ability to not only overcome challenge and crisis, trauma and tragedy, but also to bounce back stronger, wiser and more impactful than ever."