Lance Armstrong is surprisingly calm in the wake of an engulfing scandal that has destroyed his legacy and seen sponsor after sponsor distance themselves from him.
The embattled athlete, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles under a cloud of doping allegations and dropped by the likes of sponsors such as Nike Inc.Anheuser-Busch, Easton-Bell Sports Inc., Trek Bicycles, FRS sports drinks and 24 Hour Fitness, made his first public appearance since stepping down as chairman of Livestrong this past week.
“I’ve been better but I’ve also been worse,” Armstrong said at the 15: An Evening at Livestrong, a gala benefiting the cancer-fighting foundation he founded in 1997, on Friday night.
“This mission is bigger than me – it’s bigger than any individual,” he told the assembled party at the Austin Convention Center.
But he did concede that it had been a “difficult” few weeks.
Despite now being an outcast in the cycling world, Armstrong still has his celebrity supporters: Ben Stiller and Sean Penn were on the guest list, while Norah Jones, Stephen Marley and Robin Williams provided the entertainment.
At the event, Armstrong urged the crowd to continue fighting to help cancer patients and survivors.
“There’s 28 million people around the world living with this disease,” Armstrong said. “Thank you for your support.”
The evening was expected to raise $2.5 million.
On Monday, the International Cycling Union is expected to announce whether it will appeal USADA’s sanctions.
Watch Armstrong in action on Friday night here…