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Livestrong donations skyrocket in wake of Lance Armstrong’s decision to stop fighting charges

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Lookout

Armstrong at the Tour de France in 2010. Click on the image to see more photos. (AP)

Last week, after iconic American cyclist Lance Armstrong said he would no longer fight the charges brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, many wondered if Livestrong--the foundation for cancer survivors founded by the seven-time Tour de France winner and testicular cancer survivor--would suffer as a result.

It doesn't look like it.

On Friday, Armstrong said that donations to Livestrong were up 25 times over the day before. "Thank you thank you thank you!" he wrote on Twitter.

Doug Ulman, Livestrong's chief executive, told ESPN that the foundation had received $78,000 in unsolicited donations in the 24 hours following the announcement of Armstrong's decision. Compare that to Thursday, when Livestrong received just $3,200.

"It's been really tricky for the organization to be able to deal with all of these challenges to Lance's image," Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, told NPR, "but one of the things that's so interesting is that they've managed to increase their fundraising and demonstrate that they're much beyond what his role is."

Ulman said Livestrong has seen a 13 percent increase in contributions in the last 12 months.

[Also read: Armstrong's bike-mad Texas hometown stands by him]

As a result of the doping charges, Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour titles and been banned for life from professional cycling. He is, however, still competing in bike races. On Saturday, Armstrong finished second in a 36-mile mountain bike race in Aspen, Colo., where he made his first public comments since being hit with the lifetime ban.

"Nobody needs to cry for me," Armstrong told reporters. "I'm going to be great.

"It's not so much about racing anymore," the 40-year-old native Texan continued. "For me, it's more about staying fit and coming out here and enjoying one of the most beautiful parts of the world, on a beautiful day, on a very hard course."

Since Armstrong launched Livestrong in 1997, the foundation has raised close to $500 million.

"Drugs or no drugs," Matthew Serge wrote on Twitter, "anyone that raises $500 million to fight cancer is cool by me."

[Related: Armstrong says he's at peace after controversy]

"I'm focused on the future," Armstrong said after the Colorado race. "I've got five great kids, a great lady in my life, a wonderful foundation that's completely unaffected by any noise out there, and we're going to continue to do our job. The people like the people who are standing around here or on the course, they voiced their opinion in the last 48 hours and are going to support us."

Jeremy Swanson, a photographer who shot Armstong in Aspen, tweeted: "#StillMyHero."

The winner of Saturday's race, 16-year-old Keegan Swirbul, added: "I'm so psyched right now--to beat the seven-time Tour champ."

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