Livestrong responds to Armstrong’s Oprah interview: ‘Disappointed,’ but grateful, too

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

Shortly after the first segment of Oprah Winfrey's two-part interview with Lance Armstrong aired on Thursday, officials at Livestrong—the Austin-based cancer charity Armstrong founded—released a statement saying they were disappointed in their former leader, but grateful he created the foundation in the first place.

“We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us," the statement posted to the Livestrong website began.

Before taping the interview, during which the seven-time Tour de France winner and testicular cancer survivor admitted to doping and lying throughout his cycling career, Armstrong met with the Livestrong staff to apologize.

"We accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course," Livestrong continued. "We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer."

More from the foundation's statement:

Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community. Lance is no longer on the Foundation’s board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful to him for creating and helping to build a Foundation that has served millions struggling with cancer.

The 41-year-old told Winfrey that when he was diagnosed, it "turned me into a fighter. That was good. [But] I took that attitude—win at all costs—to cycling. That's bad."

Armstrong, who founded the charity in 1997, stepped down as chairman of Livestrong in October on the same day Nike, Armstrong's longtime sponsor, severed ties with him. He was dropped from Livestrong's board of directors the next month.

"The whole situation is very sad," Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman said on the "Today" show on Friday. "Watching [the interview] was hard. And yet I have to watch it through the prism of the work of the foundation, and the resilience I've come to know from millions of cancer survivors that have been touched by our work.

"There was a little sense of relief, because our organization today can finally move beyond this topic and this interview," Ulman said. "Lance created this organization before he ever won the Tour. He gave us this platform, and it's our opportunity to take this forward."

That may prove difficult.

"I see the anger in people, betrayal. It's all there," Armstrong told Winfrey. "People believed in me and supported me, and they have every right to feel betrayed and it's my fault, and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people."