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Darden research analyzes LIVESTRONG

Following highly scrutinized doping scandal, study finds Armstrong worked to protect Livestrong group

Although Livestrong Foundation founder and professional cyclist Lance Armstrong faced intense public scrutiny after admitting to doping earlier this year, recent research from the Darden School found that the organization diligently worked to prevent the bad publicity from harming the Livestrong brand and mission.

The Livestrong Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Austin, Texas, commits itself to aiding people afflicted with cancer by providing help with “insurance challenges, treatment concerns, emotional support, fertility preservation and clinical trials,” according to its website. The group was founded in 1997 by Armstrong, a cancer survivor himself.

But when Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in January, Livestrong became overwhelmed with inquiries from media and supporters of the organization about how the scandal would impact the foundation and its mission.

Researchers at Darden found Livestrong remained focused on providing care to cancer patients during the scandal, while also recognizing the importance of communicating effectively to the public.

“They believed they needed to address the torrent of questions that came their way from every possible source,” the study said. “They thought they needed to maintain a dialogue, not a monologue, with the press and others.”

But misinformation circulated through the media further exacerbated the foundation’s struggles to maintain a positive image. “The Livestrong leadership team was able to separate the man from the cause, but they knew that many other people could not,” the study said.