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Published 25 October 2012 14:29, Updated 29 October 2012 10:20
Allegations of doping have meant cancer charity Livestrong’s biggest asset, Lance Armstrong, may have become its biggest liability. Mike Hutchings
Celebrity endorsements always come with an element of risk but few organisations have ever had to deal with a problem as big as the capitulation of Lance Armstrong’s public standing.
Cancer support group Livestrong is believed to have raised about $500 million from Armstrong’s ability to overcome cancer and win the Tour de France seven times.
Livestrong’s management purposely built the charity around its biggest asset. Even its name is suggestive of Armstrong’s.
But allegations of doping have meant that the charity’s biggest asset may have become its biggest liability and its future hangs in the balance.
“To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship [of Livestrong],” Armstrong said on October 17.
Whether Livestrong can survive the Armstrong scandal remains to be seen.
Several businesses and charities in this country have relied on celebrity endorsements to raise money. Most get some mild benefit before moving onto new marketing strategies, while others aren’t so lucky.
Yet sometimes it seems sports stars are better than most at tarnishing their reputations. Here are some other recent examples.
Brendan Fevola: Never far from trouble, football star Brendan Fevola was disciplined by his employer, the Carlton Football Club, for urinating in public in 2008. A year later, the Melbourne-based club ran out of patience and traded him to the Brisbane Lions. He went to Queensland as a star of the game whose presence on and off field offered marketing opportunities to the club. Personal problems meant that their star recruit was gone a year later. Still only 31, he spent this year playing for the Yarrawonga Pigeons.
Grant Hackett: Grant Hackett was a highly popular former swimmer and gold medallist until a big day at the horse races last October allegedly led to the smashing of walls and property at his penthouse apartment.
Shane Warne: Lance Armstrong could do worse than talk to Shane Warne about overcoming scandals. Warne has had plenty. In the late 1990s, the makers of nicotine substitute Nicorette paid him $200,000 to use its product to give up smoking. After being paid the money, photos were released of Warne smoking while he was meant to be using his sponsor’s nicotine patches. He remains a smoker to this day.