Lance Armstrong. (Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images)
Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY Sports
All the negative attention surrounding Lance Armstrong's cycling career and the stripping of his seven Tour de France titles has turned into a positive cash flow for Livestrong, the cancer-fighting foundation he founded.
While Armstrong removed a reference to his Tour wins from his Twitter account -- a day after an international cycling group declined to file an appeal on his behalf -- Livestrong said Tuesday that its donations have double in recent weeks, though much of the increase can be attributed to its 15th anniversary celebration last weekend in Austin, Texas, which Armstrong attended.
At a bike race fundraiser tied to the event, last weekend, the number of riders increased from 2,698 last year to 4,308, bringing in $1.7 million.
A fundraising gala two nights earlier in Armstrong's hometown of Austin raised $2.38 million.
"Pretty awesome for our first such event in years," Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane said.
It's also noteworthy considering that Armstrong announced he was stepping down as chairman of the foundation on Oct. 17. At the time, he cited the distractions surrounding his cycling career.
Since August, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency first announced sanctions that would ban Armstrong from the sport for life and strip his titles, the number of people turning to Livestrong for financial, emotional and practical services has risen by nearly 15 percent, according to the charity.
Over the same period, the dollar amount of donations has increase by about 8 percent from the previous year, up to about $3.4 million.
Such positive figures are consistent with how Livestrong has fared throughout the Armstrong doping controversy, and suggest that the foundation has successfully distinguished its mission from its founder's woes.
Armstrong made somewhat of a separation on his Twitter account. His description previously said he was a "7-time Tour de France winner," but that has been removed in the past day or so.
On Monday, the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced that it would not appeal USADA's sanctions against Armstrong.
Armstrong has declined to discuss a 1,000-page evidence file against him that USADA released on Oct. 10. The cyclist has denied doping charges for more than a decade, saying as recently as June that he has never doped.
But the USADA file included sworn statements from 26 witnesses, many of them cyclists who were on Armstrong's teams, that portrayed him as the leader and enforcer of a long-running team doping conspiracy that used banned drugs and blood transfusions to gain an edge.
Many witnesses also testified that Armstrong used intimidation and coercion to get other cyclists to dope as a way of guaranteeing their silence.