cycling champion and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong on Monday admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he'd been using performance enhancing drugs for much of his career. According to the Associated Press, after his two-and-a-half-hour-long interview with Winfrey, Armstrong stopped by his cancer charity, the Livestrong Foundation, to apologize to staff members, some of whom started crying.After years of public denials and contentious court battles,
His employees aren't the only ones who feel let down. All over the United States, people who have proudly worn the bright yellow Livestrong bracelets are taking them off, saying that they feel betrayed by Armstrong's actions.
Vicky Lynn, a cancer survivor who has been involved with the Livestrong Foundation since 2005, says that while the foundation has done "many great things" for cancer survivors and their families, she thinks that what Armstrong has done will have a terrible impact on his foundation.
"I cannot put into words how disappointed I am that the founder of the organization really gave no thought to what this would do to the organization and all those who believed in him," she told Yahoo! Shine. "I spent years defending him to anyone who made accusations and I feel betrayed."
"I am on a very special mission right now, including many visits to cancer centers," she continued. "It has been standard procedure for me to leave the yellow bracelets for the patients. I will no longer do that. Despite the good things that have come out of this organization, I believe it will be difficult for people to not associate the yellow band with Lance."
Some argue that the good Armstrong has done with his company shouldn't be overshadowed by his personal failings—if you can call them failings at all, given that the other top cyclists of the day were doping as well.
"I still wear mine proudly as a cancer survivor. I can still be proud of Lance for that work," wrote Carl at Simply Left Behind. "He beat cheaters at their own game. Indeed, he cheated better than they did since he was never caught but they all were."
But others say that, as much as they support the cause, the bright yellow band has come to symbolize the cyclist more.
"My husband wore it every day since the day he purchased it, which seems like a decade ago, and just recently—a few months ago—took it off," Amy Stein Boshnack told Yahoo! Shine via Facebook. "Said he couldn't wear it anymore. It symbolized Armstrong too much, and he lost all respect for Armstrong."
"I have worn the Livestrong bracelet and I wore it proudly," Desireé Melfi told Yahoo! Shine. But "while I do believe we all make mistakes and we all need to be forgiven, I no longer wear my bracelet. I believe that it is now a controversial company, and not one that I want to be supportive of."Steve Hall, Director of Service Delivery Operations at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, told Yahoo! Shine that he wore the yellow Livestrong bracelet for years. A cycling enthusiast and a "huge fan" of Armstrong, Hall was diagnosed with Stage 3 malignant melanoma in 2002. He's cancer-free now, he said, but the experience made him appreciate Armstrong, his cycling accomplishments, and his battle with cancer even more.
"If I was a fan before, I was now his biggest supporter," Hall told Yahoo! Shine. "I immediately began to wear a Livestrong bracelet to show my support of Lance, both the cyclist and the cancer survivor."
Hall stopped wearing the bracelet once they became ubiquitous, but was still a big Armstrong supporter—until the doubts about doping started to creep in. "Nearly all of the top finishers over the years have been found or admitted to doping, so how could Lance have competed clean?" he pointed out. Now that the doping has been confirmed, Hall says, "I will never wear one again."
Still, for those whose lives have been changed by the Livestrong Foundation itself, that yellow rubber bracelet continues to represent something good.
"While I, like most, are disappointed by the recent events, I still wear mine proudly being a survivor myself and supportive of the cause regardless," Tom Clark of Delray Beach, Florida, told Yahoo! Shine.
"I haven't worn it probably in 6 to 9 months or so, but it hasn't been because of the Lance Armstrong thing," Michael Baca, a sports director at KPAY in Chico, California, told Yahoo! Shine. He swapped it out for one supporting a local cancer awareness event, but definitely plans to order more from Livestrong, he said. his girlfriend of 12 years was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in March 2011, and Livestrong is making it possible for them to have children one day.
Six months of chemo would have affected her fertility, so the couple decided to create embryos with help from a fertility clinic. The cost was prohibitive, "but they told us that because they work with the Livestrong Foundation they would be willing to forgive roughly 70 to 75 percent of the cost because this treatment was being done on someone with cancer," Baca explained. Today, their future family is waiting for them. "I don't know if we could have done this if we had to pay $22,000 for the procedure," he said. "But, we could afford the $5,000 dollar price tag for the possibility of having kids in the future."
Many of Armstrong's supporters started distancing themselves from the cyclist in October, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released their report on the doping allegations against him. Last year, he was stripped of all of his cycling titles and accomplishments retroactively to August 1, 1998, forcing him to give up the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Summer Olympics as well as his seven Tour de France wins. He stepped down as the chairman of the Livestrong Foundation, and Nike cut their ties to him, as did Anheuser-Busch, Trek BicycleCorp, energy drink maker FRS Co., and other companies. But even then, Nike agreed to continue to support Livestrong and sell Livestrong merchandise —a sign that, for some people, the good work that Armstrong has done through his foundation outweighs the bad choices he made as an athlete.
"Yes, I have worn the bracelet and I would wear it again," Jeremy George told Yahoo! Shine. "His cycling follies have little to do with, and ultimately pale in comparison to, his promotion of cancer awareness; he still beat cancer fair and square. As a Lance fan and a cycling enthusiast am I disappointed? Immensely. But if one more tool against cancer disappears because of his single-minded desire, isn't that the greater crime?"