On Jan. 18, Matt Lauer from “Today” spoke to Doug Ulman, the CEO of Livestrong, about his response to Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey and his doping confession. On Friday morning, the CEO explained that it was painful to watch the interview, which aired Thursday night on OWN, but that he still has high hopes for Livestrong.
Doug Ulman is a three-time cancer survivor and nationally recognized cancer advocate. After overcoming chondrosarcoma and malignant melanoma twice during his sophomore year in college, Doug and his family founded the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a nonprofit organization that provides support, education and resources to young adults, their families and friends who are affected by cancer. As the current president and Chief Executive Officer of Livestrong, he is ultimately responsible for the strategic vision and direction of the non-profit organization that was founded by Lance Armstrong.
When Matt Lauer asked Ulman how he felt when he saw Lance Armstrong confess to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs, he replied, “Well, obviously it was incredibly difficult. The whole situation is very sad and there have been frustrating times. Watching it was hard.” Then, he added, “Our organization can finally move beyond this topic.”
Lance Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997, one year after beating testicular cancer. In 2003, the foundation launched Livestrong as an online resource for cancer survivors. The yellow silicone bracelet became a symbol of Livestrong in 2004 and was part of the “Wear Yellow Live Strong” campaign to raise funds for cancer survivorship. More than 80 million bracelets were sold. Armstrong stepped down from Livestrong’s board after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report of doping evidence including blood tests and testimonies from witnesses and former teammates.
Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman told Matt Lauer that he fully realized the truth about Armstrong in October, although he had suspicions beforehand. “When that report came out, it was pretty clear to the world what had happened,” he said on “Today." He also stated that Livestrong would continue its mission without Armstrong. “Over the course of the last decade, I’ve seen the generous support, both personal and financial, of millions of people who have been touched by cancer and that’s what this organization is all about. Lance created it before he ever won the tour. Lance gave us this platform and it’s our responsibility and our opportunity to take this forward.”
However, Ulcer told Lauer that he knows the mission will be an uphill climb. He said that Livestrong would face challenges in the days, weeks and months to come. “We are going to be in a challenging situation for a period of time, but the mission is so important. We are open for business today. We are here to serve,” he stated assuredly on “Today.”
The second part of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey airs tonight at 8 p.m. EST and PST on OWN. It will also be simultaneously streamed live worldwide on Oprah.com.
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