Champion Or Cheater … Or Both? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 27 2012 @ 8:45am

A reader writes:

In response to the claim that Lance's contributions come from his work on cancer … well, not so much? Outside ran a pretty damning article about how Livestrong spends its money: 

The foundation gave out a total of $20 million in research grants between 1998 and 2005, the Livestrongyear it began phasing out its support of hard science. A note on the foundation’s website informs visitors that, as of 2010, it no longer even accepts research proposals. [In 2001], Livestrong had four staffers and a budget of about $7 million. Now it has a staff of 88, and it took in $48 million in 2010.

$20 million for research doesn't seem like much. While I appreciate donating facetime to cancer survivors and victims, some research support would be nice.

Another writes:

Just a personal anecdote about Armstrong from someone who never met him but was inspired. In October of 1996, at the age of 28, I began my first round of chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Cancer is a pretty lonely disease, and you kind of grasp at those with good news regarding surviving cancer and definitely notice those who have bad news. The same week I began my treatments, Armstrong's case was in the NY Times and it caught my eye. After all, he was 28 and I was 25. I recall that his situation was much worse than mine was (my odds were 85% and his were 40%). He also said he would refuse to take drugs that would increase his odds of survival if they impacted his ability to race. At that point the insipration was not that he survived cancer … but that he was willing to die for the sport he loved.

Three years later my cancer relapsed. It was 1999 and Lance was in the midst of his first Tour de France victory. I can recall watching his final stage with my mom and just thinking that what he was doing is what anyone who has cancer wants: a chance to have life not only return to normalcy but to be better than it was before. It was beyond beautiful to watch him riding through Paris.

It wasn't until early 2000 that I had my stem cell transplant. Armstrong was just beginning to become a legend. The bracelets were still to come. But I knew his story and I carried it with me through my treatments. And for that I am thankful.

Update from another:

I strongly disagreed with the Outside article when it came out and definitely disagree with the claim that it is "damning." I understand that the author of the article was upset, but you should really understand what charities do before you donate to them. The National Cancer Institute's budget is over $5 billion, Livestrong raised $42.3 million in 2010. Far from being "nice," the amount of money the Lance Armstrong Foundation can give to cancer research is way past the rounding error in the national cancer research budget and the $20 million in research that LAF funded over seven years probably had no discernible effect. The LAF Board was completely justified in focusing on the things they do well – things that no one or almost no one else is doing – and they were completely clear about it.

Another is more specific:

Livestrong is not and has never claimed to be an organization that solely raises money for cancer research (an obviously important cause). It exists to improve the quality of life of people battling cancer – which, until there's a cure, is equally crucial.