With the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announcing today that it is officially stripping Lance Armstrong of all of his Tour de France titles as a result of numerous banned substance charges, we’re getting to see a real-life lesson is crisis communication from Armstrong and his camp.
Amidst ongoing investigations by the USADA, Armstrong finally decided to “turn the page” on Thursday, formally ending his fight against the doping allegations. Some might argue that the seven-time Tour de France winner still had a chance in his fight against the USADA, but Armstrong clearly had a different opinion.
“The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense.”
The USADA and the International Cycling Union saw hand wringing as an admission of guilt and slapped the Texas native with a lifetime ban from the sport. But, when Armstrong’s Livestrong brand has become much bigger than the sport of cycling, we can go back to the title of his 2001 book to see what his decision is really about – It’s Not About the Bike.
Perhaps Armstrong was guilty, saw the evidence mounting against him and decided to throw his yellow jersey into the ring in an attempt to save face.
Or maybe the allegations really were false, and Armstrong grew tired of pointing to his passed drug tests as proof of his innocence and realized people had already formed their opinions about him, guilty or not.
While Thursday’s announcement might tarnish Armstrong’s personal image in the minds of some, his Livestrong brand remains relatively unscathed.
One could argue that when faced with a PR crisis that calls an individual’s integrity into question, taking responsibility (if guilty) or falling on one’s sword (innocent) might be the most noble action the accused could take in regards to the big picture. It spares the company much public scrutiny and saves the brand from being dragged through the mud during any type of trial, be it in a court of law or court of public opinion.
What do you think of Armstrong’s announcement?