Gini Dietrich

The Lance Armstong PR Crisis

By: Gini Dietrich | October 25, 2012 | 
158

At the end of August, the New York Times broke the story that Lance Armstrong dropped his fight against doping charges and my Facebook and Twitter streams, inbox, and text messages were busy with, “What do you think?” and links to various articles.

I read, and responded, to them all.

And I defended the cyclist and creator of Livestrong.

My stance was, as a business owner, there have been many times we could have won a lawsuit in court (cough, Macy’s, cough), but our attorney very wisely advised to let it go because it would have put us out of business as we fought…just to prove we were right.

Sometimes you have to make decisions that are best for the health of the organization, even if it means – in the court of public opinion – it looks like you’re admitting guilt.

And that’s what I thought Lance was doing – not admitting guilt, but putting his focus on something else.

My Cycling History

My entire life, my dad has been a cyclist. For many years it was out of necessity because we had only one car and a gazillion kids. But then he upgraded his bike, got into the Tour de France, and began to compete.

I started cycling eight years ago because, after three marathons and countless other races, my knee was scoped one too many times and the doctor said it was time to hang up my running shoes.

Between taking up cycling and Lance Armstrong and his Tour races, my dad and I had something else to bond over that wasn’t work or family.

I remember how much fun we had the day Lance was climbing a mountain and he looked back at the field, grinned, and rode up over the top to descend minutes ahead of his competitors. We still talk about that.

And now his Tour wins have been stripped. He had to remove “Seven time Tour de France winner” from his Twitter bio. And it all makes me want to cry.

It’s funny I’m this emotional about a person I’ve never met. It’s funny I want to cry at all the allegations that sure do make him look guilty. It’s funny I get so defensive when someone says, “I told you so.” (Heck, I get downright angry, not defensive.)

This is a very hard blog post for me to write. I don’t want to hear, “I told you so!” from any of you. I know, I know, I know.

The Lance Armstrong PR Crisis

But the reason I’m writing it is because Lance – the brand (sorry, I know some of you don’t believe in personal brands, but he is one) – has a huge PR crisis on his hands.

I’ve thought long and hard about this. I’ve read everything that’s been written about it. I know his PR team is the best in the industry. I don’t understand why he’s silent.

Sure, I get anything he says, tweets, writes, Facebooks, or pins can – and will – be held against him in a court of law. His attorneys probably have him on lock-down.

But I have to believe they knew this was coming. There is one person you can be totally honest with when you’re in trouble…and that’s your attorney. Surely they have a plan for how to deal with allegations should they be made public.

And their PR counsel surely was ready for this, as well.

So where is he?

Other than changing his Twitter bio, he hasn’t tweeted anything in a week.

He hasn’t talked to reporters. He hasn’t posted anything on Facebook.

He’s completely silent.

He’s pulling a Tiger Woods.

And I don’t get it.

The court of public opinion is as important (if not more these days) as any court of law. He has more than three million Twitter followers. Imagine if just one of them, who believes he’s being made the scapegoat for an entire industry of dopers, were to end up on his jury.

My Recommendation

If he’s guilty (I’m still not willing to admit it), he needs to come out and say so.

It’s going to hurt.

He already has former sponsors asking for their money back. He’s already lost Nike, Anheuser-Busch, and Oakley. He’s not allowed to race ever again. He was stripped of his titles. Livestrong is distancing themselves from him. It can’t get much worse.

Now he needs to come forward and say, “I did this. I’m sorry.” And let his fans know how sorry he is so we can all move on. Heck, so he can move on.

There isn’t a story once a brand apologizes. Say you’re sorry and let the media move on to the next big crisis.

I’ll still wear my Livestrong bracelet. I’ll still count Lance as one of my cycling heroes. And I’ll feel better finally knowing the truth directly from the horse’s mouth.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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158 Comments on "The Lance Armstong PR Crisis"

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Claire Celsi
Claire Celsi
3 years 7 months ago
Yes, I agree that silence is not helping in this situation. But now, what is left? A career in tatters. Exposed lies. A glass house shattered. The only thing that made him so famous during his cancer journey was his cycling celebrity. Now that’s obviously a sham.   He got rich off his endorsements. RICH. You didn’t mention the personal gains he acquired by illegal means. All the legit competitors who came in second.   Tiger Woods, even though he is despicable, is still a legitimate golfing sensation. And he obviously does not dope on public adulation like Armstrong does.… Read more »
katskrieger
3 years 7 months ago

@Claire Celsi I don’t disagree, but from what I understand none of the “legit” competitors have been awarded first place for these races as a replacement because the majority tested positive too. Doping was rampant among a huge portion of these teams. Did everyone? No. Should he be instantly forgiven because it was so rampant? No. The point is that the issue has a lot of facets and a lot of grey area.
 
Like @ginidietrich , I really wish he would say something, anything….

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@katskrieger  I’m not a believer in the “everyone is doing it so it’s OK” mantra. If everyone cheated in school, does that make it OK? I remember when I first moved to Chicago and I had a trainer who talked about how all the middle school and high school kids were doing drugs in order to compete. And their parents were getting them for them. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I guess there will always be people gaming the system, no matter what it is.    With this, many people think he’s the scapegoat. I know I’m emotionally… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Claire Celsi The problem is there were any legit competitors that came in second. They all were doping. But I can’t talk about that. I can talk about the PR disaster he’s created. I don’t understand why, when I KNOW he’s surrounded by really smart communications pros, he’s staying silent. He’s not typically one to brush aside they’re counsel so it makes me wonder if there is something even bigger at play here.

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @Claire Celsi You raise a good point here, Gini re the comms pros with whom he surrounded himself.  And this is where spin truly sucks…I would hate to think how much that comms team really new…and if they were part of the perpetuation of lies.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@ElissaFreeman  @Claire Celsi Having been in this situation before (not as big, but big from a legal perspective), I can venture to guess they only knew what the attorneys were telling them. So I don’t think they were helping to weave the path of lies. I think they were working with the information they had. There is no way an attorney would tell a comms pro anything that could legally hurt a client because we don’t have the same privilege and could be hauled into court.

T60Productions
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve been waiting for you to blog about this topic.  I know it’s close to your heart… like mine.  
 
The whole PR situation reminds me a lot of Pete Rose.  He denied having bet on baseball for years, and has been denied his place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame because of it.  Finally, decades later he admitted it and now there’s a real chance he could someday get in.
 
Honesty is almost always the right policy.
 
–Tony Gnau

T60Productions
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve been waiting for you to blog about this topic.  I know it’s close to your heart… like mine.  
 
The whole PR situation reminds me a lot of Pete Rose.  He denied having bet on baseball for years, and has been denied his place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame because of it.  Finally, decades later he admitted it and now there’s a real chance he could someday get in.
 
Honesty is almost always the right policy.
 
–Tony Gnau

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@T60Productions Not almost always. It is always the right policy.

kymberlaine
kymberlaine
3 years 7 months ago

I take it personally too but in a different way. When he said, I’m not going to fight this any more, I became and even prouder fan because I believe too many people, that have also become brands, are expected to live every moment in the court of public opinion and I don’t believe that is a good thing. But, you’re right, he really is a brand, and he can’t move past it until he does close it.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@kymberlaine Like you, I was proud of him too. And I defended him by saying there are times you have to make hard decisions in order to focus on what’s best for you, your family, and/or your business. But now, from a PR perspective, it’s time to say something. Anything.

kymberlaine
kymberlaine
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I agree, but that doesn’t keep me from being sad about it

Nelson7qamya
Nelson7qamya
3 years 7 months ago

@StephanieDes http://t.co/hcWzsxb8

jasondyk
jasondyk
3 years 7 months ago

I think NOW is the time for Lance to start engaging with folks as well! He has an amazing opportunity to rally his community and make it 10x stronger just by chatting with people, thanking them for their support and owning his part of all of this.  It’s amazing how forgiving people can be if you own your stuff

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jasondyk Isn’t it? It’s amazing how well “I’m sorry” works. That’s really all it takes. My sister-in-law snapped a photo of some Livestrong jerseys that were dropped to $10 from $119. I said, “BUY SOME!” I still support cycling. I still support Livestrong. I’ll still even support Lance if we hear from him.

BillGiltner
BillGiltner
3 years 7 months ago

For me, not a PR person, the idea that the prescribed plan is “I’m sorry’, is a soul-less and craven move.
 
The social contract must have a true break-up option, and I think all of us, on a personal level, have experienced times when it should apply.
 
PR shouldn’t have to be about lies as the stock in trade.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@BillGiltner It’s not about lies if you apologize. It’s about coming clean. It’s about saying you’re sorry and really meaning it. If he were a client and weren’t ready to say he was sorry and really mean it, I wouldn’t let him anywhere near a keyboard or a microphone. But America loves the second act story. If he can get past this, we’ll put him up on a pedestal again.

BillGiltner
BillGiltner
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I respect that you may be right.  I respect that your business can be about crisis management, and rejuvenation.  
 
I not so critical of the “I’m sorry” for Armstrong approach as I am angry about the public falling for lies in so many areas of our lives,  I believe the truth needs to matter.  Some brands get it.  When Gilbert Gottfried veers into the distasteful tweets (http://www.businessinsider.com/gilbert-goffried-fired-afl-2011-3 ) on twitter, Aflac didn’t ask him to say I’m sorry.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@BillGiltner I agree. I don’t understand why so many public figures lie. I guess they think they’ll get away with it. But they never do.

BillGiltner
BillGiltner
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I used the words “social contract” above which I believed to refer to a general understanding / agreement of what is in bounds and what is out of bounds in society.  Upon further research, this meaning does not seem to be well established, and the words refer mainly to the relationship between the people and the government.  So, I misspoke.
 
While on the subject of social contract, I also found this critique (which I find disturbing on many levels, and don’t agree with, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/19/1133735/-The-Social-Contract ) of Mitt Romney.

KenMueller
3 years 7 months ago
I’ve read some articles with interviews with some of the younger, current racers, who are rather angry and concerned that as a result of this, the sport will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, because of how widespread this reportedly is. I think that’s the other part of the story: how the cycling community and sanctioning body bounces back. Several corporations seem to have already pulled their sponsorship from teams. Obviously they can bounce back, but I think it will be harder than baseball coming back form the Bonds/McGwire mess, mostly because cycling isn’t as entrenched in our… Read more »
HeatherTweedy
3 years 7 months ago
@KenMueller Interesting point.  It does seem like each sport has its own social contract with its fan.  Football, which is teeming with those using PED’s and yet fans don’t seem to care.  Even when drug tests turn up positive, a player takes his few-game suspension and everyone moves on.     It seems that he more individual a sport is, the more we want to believe that a single human can actually be exceptional.  If I ever found out that Federer was doping, I would die a little inside.     To @ginidietrich ‘s  point of why he isn’t talking, I certainly… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@HeatherTweedy  @KenMueller And not only that, but they benefitted greatly from his wins. You can’t tell me the post office and the insurance company and the other sponsors didn’t make a lot of money off his back. Give me a break for wanting your money back.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@KenMueller If it’s as widespread as they say, they have to buckle down and get everyone off the drugs and away from the blood doping. Everyone. And everyone has to commit to doing it. I work with VisionQuest, a cycling coaching organization started by Robbie Ventura (who raced on the U.S. Postal team and coached Floyd Landis and now is a reporter during the Tour) and he personally sits down with every new client and explains how important clean cycling is and has you sign something saying you won’t cheat in any way. And then he has it notarized. This is… Read more »
KenMueller
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich That’s good. This has been big news around here since Floyd Landis is local, and there was a big article in the paper on Sunday about his role in all of this. And I think that’s what cycling needs to do, especially because it’s not a part of our culture the way baseball is. They have a much tougher row to hoe in cycling.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@HowellMarketing Thanks Amy! xoxo

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Subworx @jasondyk Thank you to both of you!

geoffliving
3 years 7 months ago

I think it’s obvious why he’s not talking.  It’s time for LIVESTRONG to stand separately from him (I blogged about this myself on Monday).  In a speech on Friday at a LIVESTRONG fundraiser he said as much. The cause has to survive the man.  And to do that, he needs to shut up and go away, as simple as that. I’m personally glad he’s not saying anything and letting the cause take the forefront and begin to stand on its own.

katskrieger
3 years 7 months ago

@geoffliving @ginidietrich I think he could still apologize separate from Livestrong, but I do agree Livestrong needs to stand on its own.

geoffliving
3 years 7 months ago

@katskrieger  @ginidietrich Good article on how LIVESTRONG needs to position against this crisis in BusinessWeek that ran yesterday:  http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-24/can-livestrong-live-without-lance#r=nav-r-story

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@geoffliving I agree with you on Livestrong and agreed with your blog post. But, from a PR perspective, this isn’t about Livestrong or about cycling. It’s about Lance Armstrong. He can’t quietly go away when former sponsors are suing him for their prize money back. When he’s being stripped of his medals. When his name is being erased from the record books. This is bigger than Livestrong.

geoffliving
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich He’s already gone. You  and other bloggers may not like it, but he’s gone. He doesn’t have to be accountable to you or anyone else publicly, ESPECIALLY if people are suing him.  In fact, it would probably be a disaster for him to do so from a legal perspective.  I would think of Barry Bonds and how he got off the charges filed against him (sans perjury). I think the two cases are much more analagous than the Tiger Woods situation.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

Your DAD was in the Tour de France…??

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay No, no, no. He got into it as in watched it. He competes locally and always places in the top three for his age group. He’s SUPER strong.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich BWAhahahahaha!! Come on – surely I’m not the *only* person who read that that way!!?? #facepalm

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay You’re a loon.

jasonkonopinski
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @belllindsay Crazier than a sh&thouse rat. 🙂

AmyMccTobin
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay I thought the SAME THING when I read it!!!

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@AmyMccTobin @ginidietrich BOOM!! Right there!! I am NOT a loon! LOL

JLipschultz
JLipschultz
3 years 7 months ago

My response is simple: you’re right. Unfortunately L had chances to come clean earlier and avoid this worst case scenario. Ego got in the way.
Glad you still wear the bracelet I gave you.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@JLipschultz I don’t want to be right in this case.

Nic_Cartwright
3 years 7 months ago

And if he is not guilty??

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Nic_Cartwright Either way, the silence is deafening. There needs to be some communication. I’d love it if he’s not, but based on all of the witnesses, I will someday admit I believe he is guilty.

Claire Celsi
Claire Celsi
3 years 7 months ago

@Nic_Cartwright  That ship has sailed. It’s his word against dozens of others. According to others involved in the industry, he was relentless about squashing his opposition.

Nic_Cartwright
3 years 7 months ago
@Claire Celsi  @Nic_Cartwright for sure the current spin is that he is guilty…. I am not a huge cycling sport fan (though I love to do it myself) – though I am a big sports fan…  I strongly believe that drugs have no place in sports (I even had to sack a player once for drug use) – but I have not read the evidence – and have no idea what the facts are – I do know however that there is a small chance that he might not be guilty after all as stranger things can happen in sports/politics.  Hence my… Read more »
ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 7 months ago
Right now, Lance’s digital silence is deafening…and for someone who courted his fans via social media this is a big problem.  His apology has to be so carefully crafted as an avalanche of lawsuits likely await him for return of prize money, sponsorship money etc. Mitch Joel wrote a post on this yesterday.  However, beyond the apology (and I’m sure there will be one) will come the next investigation: use of Livestrong funds. We already know charitable donations were used in Armstrong’s case vs the sponsor who promised him millions when he won the 2004 Tour.    I agree with many… Read more »
katskrieger
3 years 7 months ago

@ElissaFreeman Supporting cancer?

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 7 months ago

They need to make their mission clear, especially now.  Having been in NFP for 18 years…I couldn’t tell you what they do beyond that they were the “charity that Lance Armstrong started.”

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@ElissaFreeman I actually think Livestrong will be fine without him. They’ve been separating their brand from his for a long time. It was one of the strategies they employed as his cycling career was ending. So I don’t see that being a problem. But it does break my heart to see so many former sponsors wanting their money back and crucifying him. The fact of the matter is, he brought those organizations a TON of publicity that they gained tremendously from. What’s the point in trying to get back money that’s likely gone?

debdobson62
debdobson62
3 years 7 months ago
Gini, you know what a huge fan I am of Lance and how much I love watching Tour de France and the other cycling events.  Heck, I even accidently colored my hair orange because I got distracted by Lance in the mountains (first time/last time doing my own hair…and a big presentation the next morning).  I too have defended him and am getting the “I told you so.”  I’m not sure if he is guilty or not.  I’ve read everything, and at this point agree.  He needs to say something.  He is pulling a Tiger Woods.  He does have some… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@debdobson62 It was really hard to take the emotion I’m feeling out so I could write this. I’ve been sitting on it for weeks. Heck, I’ve been sitting on it since the end of August. I really don’t want to believe he’s guilty.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@elissapr I heard you had a blog post on the topic, too.

elissapr
elissapr
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich True. I had this one @thecanadacom http://t.co/xlgNSv9y; plus another waiting in the wings…

ladylaff
ladylaff
3 years 7 months ago

I’m sorry Gini, that must have been hard.  Cycling is still a a wonderful sport and there are some amazing new role models like (my favourite) Bradley Wiggins.  Sometimes an institution needs a crisis in order to have a renaissance.  By the way, I think your advice was spot on.  I hope he takes it.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@ladylaff It was fun to watch Wiggins win the Tour and then race in the Olympics the very next week. THAT takes amazing stamina. I’d win the Tour and then want to sleep for three weeks, not ride in the Olympics.

Keena Lykins
Keena Lykins
3 years 7 months ago
Interesting post, Gini, and like everyone else, I’ve been waiting for you to write it. If I were his PR counsel, I would tell him to say “sorry” or say nothing. If he’s guilty and not sorry, then he shouldn’t play sorry on TV. Silence is better than false contrition at this point.   And as much as we want to know the truth (well, some do. I can’t say I’ve lost much sleep over this) silence may be the smartest thing he can do for himself and his family. Look at it this way, unless I’ve missed major news… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Keena Lykins By no means do I think he needs to apologize if he’s not. But he does need to say something. Anything. He used Twitter to build a huge following of loyal runners and cyclists. And now he’s completely silent. It’s bad, bad, bad communications.

Keena Lykins
Keena Lykins
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich When did he go silent on social media? I read his August statement and got the feeling that that would be his last word on the matter regardless of what happens. Looking back on it, his emphasis on the use of “physical evidence” suggests he knew exactly what was coming. If he’s not posted much since then, he might not post again.
 
And if he’s not going to respond to the most recent rulings, is there anything he can say that won’t be construed as avoiding the issue, etc.?

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Keena Lykins He went quiet a week ago. He was tweeting until October 17. I do think he should issue a statement, via a news conference, that either admits he doped (if he did and it won’t hurt him in future lawsuits, especially because he testified under oath that he did not) or he says something along the lines of, “This sucks. It’s happening. I’ve been advised not to say anything so you won’t hear from me for a while. I’m focused on my family and on cancer research right now.”

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
3 years 7 months ago
Clearly, this entire story is a subtle exposure of the massive doping problem that exists in professional cycling. Armstrong’s silence makes we wonder how he could have possibly leveraged this opportunity to save his reputation by admitting his mistakes and then championing a “no doping” campaign aimed at international youth who aspire to be in professional cycling. A “learn from my mistakes, don’t repeat them” tour. Could this have turned the public’s opinion around? Of course, there are those who would criticize him further for trying to profit off obvious cheating but what if he did it for free or… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@John_Trader1 I absolutely think that would turn around public opinion and think you should call his office and tell him your idea!

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Here I thought it was a pipe dream to think of this. I am going to call his office and tell them that for a small fee, I will offer them the absolute best way to get him out of this conundrum 🙂 Or, they could just read your blog. They are, right?

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@John_Trader1 Take the credit! Get the fee!

KristenDaukas
3 years 7 months ago
First of all, we as a country are extremely forgiving of celebrities and the messes they get themselves into.  Come forward, state your side and within a few months it will be old news. I like Lance.. I support him and I won’t believe the stories until it comes out of the horse’s mouth. But IMHO there is a big difference between Lance and Tiger.. Tiger’s muck up destroyed his family.. he egotistically went thru life cheating on his wife thinking he was untouchable and that he wouldn’t get caught. Just like Lance, he lost his endorsements and his armor… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@KristenDaukas The difference, too, is Tiger was allowed to continue competing. That has been stripped from Lance (marathons, triathlons, Tour of California, and more) so he’ll never make his way back to the top. I’m not by any means a serious contender when I race, but if that were taken away from me, I would want to die.

KristenDaukas
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Maybe not in cycling but he’ll do okay, I think. He’ll always be a champion in my eyes who was brought down by inferior athletes and snarky reporters  who couldn’t beat him. Even if he was guilty, I wouldn’t look at him with the disgust that I look at Tiger Woods with. Tiger is a skank who should have never been allowed back. (was that an impassioned response???)

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@KristenDaukas LOL!!

sierratierra
sierratierra
3 years 7 months ago

We are a big cycling family. My husband used to compete and he and I went to the 2005 TdF. I used to run a Yahoo! Group called “Queens of the Feed Zone” to talk about women/families who support their male cyclists. Back then, we asked each other, “How will we tell our children about Tyler Hamilton?” Because he had considerably less clout than Armstrong, the PR crisis remained with Hamilton for the most part. With Lance, the PR crisis spreads to competitive cycling as a whole. It’s not just about HIS bike anymore.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@sierratierra Funny! I just made myself some lunch from my Feed Zone cookbook! So how will you address this with kids and teenagers?

sierratierra
sierratierra
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich All my ideas sound incredibly hokey — but most revolve around that you’ll never get busted for anything if you keep it clean. (So keep it clean and hold on to all the reasons that you love the bike/competition in the first place.) No matter how we frame it, it’s going to be a tough conversation.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@sierratierra It’s just in how we should live our lives, isn’t it? Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Live by the Golden Rule. I guess it’s not that easy.

rdopping
rdopping
3 years 7 months ago

I have no love for the way society crucifies people before the truth comes ou. Regardless Lance will never be the same and Livestrong, through association, is tarnished. It’s sad because it’s not a shoe or a watch. Too bad. I hope he comes clean.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@rdopping I really defended him – hard – before the testimony came out. And I had to live through a lot of “I told you so,” which was really painful. I’m with you – let people have their day in court before we crucify them.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing
Just a few thoughts…1) What kind of an edge does doping give an athlete? Do dopers always win? There’s something to be said for 7 years of being first with an aging body and does that mean he took more drugs to compensate, yet there has never been solid proof that he has? I’m so confused.   2) In this situation, “saying sorry” isn’t going to get him beyond this debacle (like Tiger). He has to enroll in blah blah, devote time to community service, show he indeed has a tail and that’s how the PR has to happen. His… Read more »
Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/
3 years 7 months ago

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Doping won’t always make the difference. It won’t turn an average person into an elite athlete, but it does provide an edge and there is a legitimate question about whether it creates an uneven playing field.
 
That is sort of contingent upon how many people are doing it.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/  @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Right. If I doped, I still wouldn’t be able to ride in the Tour, even if they allowed women.

Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago
15 professional cyclists – Lance’s former teammates – would not admit to doping just to take Lance down. It DID happen and part of the reason he’s silent is because fans are used to turning a blind eye to his bad behavior. The cycling industry wants this behavior to stop, and you should to. Livestrong will be fine, so why care about what a cheater says? Sorry, but it makes me angry when celebrities get away with murder, and then people still follow him!?! Anyway, the promotions worked so no sponsorship money should be asked back, but cycling fans still… Read more »
Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago
15 professional cyclists – Lance’s former teammates – would not admit to doping just to take Lance down. It DID happen and part of the reason he’s silent is because fans are used to turning a blind eye to his bad behavior. The cycling industry wants this behavior to stop, and you should to. Livestrong will be fine, so why care about what a cheater says? Sorry, but it makes me angry when celebrities get away with murder, and then people still follow him!?! Anyway, the promotions worked so no sponsorship money should be asked back, but cycling fans still… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Tunevk I don’t disagree with you one bit. But, from a PR perspective (this is a PR and marketing blog, after all), he needs to break his silence. If he’s not sorry, that’s fine. Don’t be sorry. But say SOMETHING.

Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I just disagree. Saying that he’s not sorry, saying that he is sorry – either option makes him look weak and tainted. I think a guy like Lance Armstrong, a professional cyclist, should lay low. In the long run, people will still remember him for cycling, not for how he handled this situation.
 
Unfortunately, someone will probably convince him to do an interview that let’s his ego talk and disregards what the sport of cycling really is and should be – sheer strength and determination, without cheating.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Tunevk From a brand/PR perspective, though, it’s the worse thing you can do. You have to speak…even if it’s just a statement that says, “This is what’s going on. I’ve been advised to lay low.” But to just drop off the face of the earth is what creates the media circus and keeps people talking and speculating. You have to get in front of these things. Always.

Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich He’s been dealing with this for years and he has spoken about the issue many, many, many, many times. Recently, even. I just don’t agree that he would be saving anything or benefitting himself by speaking today. It would change nothing.   it sounds to me that you are concerned about short term PR, but I’m thinking about his long-term brand. Speaking today may calm the frantic PR folks, but reserving statement for the right moment (after the legal and gossip fallout simmers) would guarantee his ability to be heard, and to make a statement that actually means something –… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@Tunevk Not at all. I’m concerned about the long-term brand. This is what we do every, single day. It’s not about calming frantic PR people. It’s about not giving the media anything else to talk about. When you don’t make a statement, the media write stories and report on speculation. When you do, even if it’s just “I’m laying low,” they have nothing to report on and they move on to the next thing. Until he makes a statement, they will continue reporting and affecting the court of public opinion. It’s what they do. And it’s the job of a communications… Read more »
Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich i just firmly believe that this story is too big to be squashed so easily as you describe, with a “I’m laying low” statement. The media is going to report on him, positively and negatively, regardless of what he does or says for the next 12 months. That’s what happened to Tiger, and I think that this story is even juicier (pardon the pun).
 
And again, he has made many statements on this topic and even recently, fully explained his position on the case. He’ll resurface soon enough, and no one will remember that he didn’t tweet for a week.

KarenARocks
3 years 7 months ago

And this too, shall pass. I agree that not making any type of statement, – especially when basically the whole world has made up their minds that he is guilty – is not helping his image. I was also in the not guilty camp, but a litany of others have swayed me over that line. I was truly impressed by Christian Vande Velde’s statement when he admitted and honestly apologized for doping.  christianvdv.com/blog/christian-vande-velde-statement/ Apologize if you did wrong, and get on with your life.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@KarenARocks It’s the only way to get past it. Otherwise this is going to hang over his head even after he dies.

ErinMFeldman
ErinMFeldman
3 years 7 months ago

@John_Trader1 Thanks, John (JT?)! 🙂

geoffliving
3 years 7 months ago

Side note:  Want to put money down that Sheryl Crow left him when she found out he had been lying about doping?

AmyMccTobin
3 years 7 months ago

@geoffliving I thought he left her?

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@AmyMccTobin  @geoffliving Yeah – I thought he left her. In fact, I was at an event right after that happened, where she spoke, and she was pretty broken up about it. The rumor was he left her while she was undergoing chemo, which made some people call him scum of the earth.

geoffliving
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @AmyMccTobin Well, that kind of sucks.  While I was willing to compartmentalize doping a systematic issue, this combination of skeeviness kind of makes me really not like Lance.

alainlemay69
alainlemay69
3 years 7 months ago
OK, let’s admit it, it is likely that he used. As did 90% of top cyclists. But I disagree with the witch hunt he has been the victim of by the USADA. Picking one person and making him the scapegoat for all the problems in professional sports. It seems we learn nothing from history. When Ben Johnson tested positive, he was demonized in the media and the medal awarded to his rival, Carl Lewis. It later came out that Lewis had tested positive three times before the 1988 Olympics. Yet no one went after him with a hatchet and he still holds… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@alainlemay69 I don’t know…I’m with you. It does feel like a witch hunt – like he is being made an example of for everyone else. I ride my bike every day. I am, by no means, the strongest rider around. I do know how hard it is to get on your bike day after day and climb mountains when your legs simply won’t move. But I also don’t think we need to cheat for faster recovery or what have you. Part of the reason the Tour is such an amazing race is it’s 21 days of pure riding. If your body… Read more »
AmyMccTobin
3 years 7 months ago
I feel for you Gini – it sucks to see that our heroes have flaws… especially major one.  I know he did wrong, but I just can’t hate him for it because he’s done SO MUCH GOOD.  And I always come back to this question: if we all know that 90% of cyclists dope, much like we know a good percentage of NFL players use steroids, why are Football players allowed to get a pass?  Why are cyclists (and baseball players) held to a different standard.   He needs to admit it, but I bet you any money that his… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@AmyMccTobin He has done a ton of good. And I keep thinking about the fact that he never tested positive for doping. But now it sounds like he was just a master at avoiding the testing at the right times. It really makes me sad.

AmyMccTobin
3 years 7 months ago

One more thing: one of my great business heroes detested Richard Branson because he thought him reckless. By building his entire brand around the cult of his personality, my mentor thought that he carelessly risked everyone’s employment at Virgin – what if something happened to him on one of his crazy trips? If he died, would the company die?  Perhaps any charity associated with a celebrity should take note of that and perhaps build a separate identity from the beginning to safeguard.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@AmyMccTobin But why is that different from any of the organizations we’re building? I mean, I try really hard to make our brand about more than me, but I am very much present both on the Arment Dietrich side and Spin Sucks. Part of the reason we have the blog separate from the business is to build something that isn’t reliant on my name.

AmyMccTobin
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich That’s my point… since we’ve watched so many celebrities fall and take their good causes down with them, why not think like you and have a toehold of an identity separate from the celebrity.

Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/
3 years 7 months ago
Tiger didn’t need drugs to win, he was simply the best.   I used to see Pete Rose almost daily. He ate a restaurant next to my office and hung out at my gym. Every time I saw him I wanted to tell him he was one of my childhood heroes and that he should be in the Hall of Fame.   I also wanted to tell him to just apologize and that everyone would move on, but I never did. FWIW, Andy Petite apologized and got to go back to work as a major league pitcher.   The question… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/ He can’t do any kind of racing, including triathlons and marathons. I’m not even close to the competitor he is, but if racing were pulled out from under me, I’d go into a deep depression.

barrettrossie
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  He would be allowed to ride the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes with my wife and me, if he doesn’t mind dodging moose.

Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/
3 years 7 months ago

I’d like to see the focus shift to how he beat cancer because that is worth talking about.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/ And how much he’s done for cancer research.

MarkOrlan
MarkOrlan
3 years 7 months ago
Giini, you’re better than me. I removed my Livestrong bracelet after many years of wear and tear on my wrist.   Maybe Lance should just lay low for a year or two…take a long trip out of the country…maybe move to France or something (surely he can find a cave in the south of France to inhabit). The French always knew he was a cheater.  They might welcome him now that he’s been exposed. Surely their sentiment towards him can’t get any worse.  Who knows?     If he comes out now with an admission of guilt and an apology, it’s… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@MarkOrlan By no means do I think the apology should be contrived. He only should do it if he truly is sorry. But he does need to publicly address this. Going quiet is only making things worse.

Carmelo
3 years 7 months ago
Maybe this is off topic but all I can think of right now is; why do we need role models and heroes? Why are we so obsessed with winning, and being the best in the world? And does any of this mindset we have contribute to the cheating? Shoot, i’m not pointing any fingers! We all seem to do this. What is it?   Yeah, i know we want to feel good and imagine we’re a part of this winning and success. But, with our beloved sports teams and heroes aren’t we often building them up to untenable heights? And… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@Carmelo I don’t think we have to cheat. If the playing field is level, we don’t have to cheat to get ahead. Sure, some people won’t have to work as hard as others do, but that’s why natural talent and skill are rewarded. I won a full-ride, academic to college. They paid for everything, including my room and board. Heck, I didn’t even have to pay for shampoo. And it used to get under my roommate’s skin that I was required to keep a 3.8 GPA in order to keep my scholarship, but I never studied. Academia always came easy to… Read more »
Carmelo
3 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich Right, we don’t have to. I played college basketball. I didn’t cheat. My son played college basketball and became an all-american. He never cheated and most all his counterparts didn’t cheat. That’s the way I wish it were throughout all levels of sport. But it isn’t.   The reality is that once someone does, the playing field gets artificially skewed. And there’s the rub. Lance would have won without cheating if no one else was. This isn’t an indictment of Lance but the whole culture of winning at all costs. Gini, you’re so right about the fact everyone is different… Read more »
magriebler
magriebler
3 years 7 months ago
Remember that old song, “I need a hero?” We all need heroes. We need people with tremendous capacity (talent, money, influence) to make the world a better, more hopeful place and, by association, make us better people. So when they fall of the pedestals we so carefully built for them, it hurts. It hurts because we’ve forged a relationship that becomes meaningful to the way we live. Who wouldn’t cheer for a young man who survived cancer and went on to win 7 of the biggest titles in sports? I did. I wore my yellow bracelet with pride. I’m with… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@magriebler It’s not just heroes in sports. This is what we do as human beings – we build people up so we can tear them down and rebuild them. Being successful comes with big, big sacrifices.

juliansummerhayes
juliansummerhayes
3 years 7 months ago
As a former sports lawyer with a specialism in anti-doping, he has more than a PR crises on his hands. I have read the USADA file, and even though he passed all the doping controls (almost), Lance looks guilty of organising a very sophisticated doping programme. The sooner he comes clean the better. In fact with ASO et al now likely to begin legal proceedings, he will have no choice unless he wants to find himself on the end of some very nasty summary judgements which could lead to his bankruptcy. Just wait until US postal climbs into the ring.… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@juliansummerhayes So if you were counseling him on the legal side and I were counseling him on the communications side, do you agree with my recommendation? From experience, I know there are some things he can’t say, but don’t you think life will be easier if he just comes clean?

alainlemay69
alainlemay69
3 years 7 months ago
@juliansummerhayes I’m surprised you would come to that conclusion. I’m no jurist but here are the facts as I understand them: – The Justice Department dropped its case against him; insufficient evidence of doping. – Most of the allegations fall outside of USADA’s eight-year statute of limitations but the agency argues that Armstrong keeps expanding the time limit by continuing to deny drug use – USADA also cites tests consistent with drug use. The validity and accuracy of those tests have been disputed but USADA says they only serve as corroborating evidence and aren’t needed to make the case against… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@alainlemay69  I wish I could love this comment.

barrettrossie
3 years 7 months ago

@alainlemay69  @juliansummerhayes I just “liked” your comments because I love being a contrarian. @alainlemay69 , your post reminds me not to make up my mind about anything until I’ve heard both sides of the argument. (It’s really a good policy to keep from going insane during the political season!)

Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago
@alainlemay69  @juliansummerhayes So you want doping to continue in cycling? You accept the “well they didn’t catch Lance, so let’s all just keep cheating” argument? You prefer that bullies take over this sport and that no athletes can play fair and win?   And you think that George Hincapie, an extremely well-respected cyclist who just retired from the sport at 39 years old, had a gun held to his head to force him to talk about Lance Armstrong’s doping? He didn’t talk until he was ready to retire, but you think that he’s lying? Really?   I’m sorry, but when you take… Read more »
alainlemay69
alainlemay69
3 years 7 months ago
@Tunevk  @alainlemay69  @juliansummerhayes  First off, your tone is very antagonistic and it really does not need to be. 2- I am not wearing “rosy-Lance loving glasses” as you stated, I am not even a Cycling fan. I am a fan of fairness and the general precepts of our legal system: innocent until proven guilty. 3- I am not a fan of individuals who seem to hold unchecked power and use it in their private vendettas. Texas district court judge Sam Sparks remarked “there are troubling aspects of this case, not least of which is USADA’s apparent single-minded determination to force Armstrong to… Read more »
Tunevk
Tunevk
3 years 7 months ago
@alainlemay69  @juliansummerhayes Sorry, the whole conversation does make me angry because I do love cycling and it is shameful what doping and the lies surrounding doping have done to the sport and it’s athletes. I think that this scandal WILL end-up changing the game in a positive way, so I support the efforts that were made to expose it – even if it took the presence of federal agents to emphasize the serious nature of this case.   I also think that the bigger PR question lies with the cycling agencies and what they will do to step out of this scandal… Read more »
alainlemay69
alainlemay69
3 years 7 months ago
@Tunevk  @juliansummerhayes I cannot condone the means, but I will gladly join you in hoping this is the shakeup the industry needed to clean up the sport, and in fact all sports, so we can go back to admiring those athletes who push themselves to excel without using the crutches of doping.   At the same time, I think we as fans have to take some responsibility for the present situation. We want records broken at every race. We want athletes to do the impossible. We created the climate in which dopers can flourish. Many of the cyclists who doped started… Read more »
Anthony_Rodriguez
3 years 7 months ago
I like what Malcolm Gladwell has said about this Lance Armstrong saga. When he was cycling, EVERYONE was using PEDs. And since the use of PEDs was so pervasive in cycling (more than 20 people in the indictment admitted it) it was an even playing field. Armstrong was just the best at using them and won 7 Tours de France because of it. And now that they’ve stripped the titles, a total of what, 3, people have won the Tour in its history.   No matter what happened, you can’t be a revisionist historian. Major League Baseball hasn’t erased all… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Anthony_Rodriguez My feeling on this is…just because everyone cheats doesn’t mean it’s OK. But I do agree you can’t be a revisionist historian. As much as I cannot stand Alberto Contador, he got screwed. They found such a trace amount of hormones in his test that it could have easily been something in his food. But they banned him for a year. And when the Prime Minister came out and said it was BS, they banned him for a second year. It’s too much power with an organization that shouldn’t have that much power.

Yarnelljqabs0n
Yarnelljqabs0n
3 years 7 months ago

@janesmallfield http://t.co/rrT7aGeR

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@janesmallfield Thanks! I’m glad there are a few of us left

AmandaOleson
AmandaOleson
3 years 7 months ago

I thought we decided to call not saying a word about your predicament “Pulling a Favre,” @ginidietrich. Remember how that turned out? Peachy. 🙂
 
(I know it’s not the same. I just wanted to remind you about calling it pulling a Favre.)

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@AmandaOleson My you have a long memory!

Tinu
3 years 7 months ago
I don’t want to believe he’s guilty either. And while there may be things tat look like evidence against him mounting… Having tested false positive twice And been given steroids in the hospital before, I still cant let go of the possibility that there’s been some mistake. At the same time I don’t think good deeds wipe out the bad if he isn’t. And I feel like, somehow, we deserve Some answer. But it’s like you said, he may be getting some advice that protects the organization & the people it helps, even if he is guilty and Wants to… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@Tinu John Millen wrote a really good blog post on this yesterday. He even went so far as to write the statement Lance should release…and I agree.    Here it is:   “These recent events have great taken a toll on me and my family.  I take this very seriously and I’m going to take time to reflect deeply on what has happened and on the future. “One thing I can tell you is that I remain committed as ever to my life’s purpose– the fight against cancer.  This fight is much larger than sports or personalities. We’ve raised nearly a… Read more »
BillGiltner
BillGiltner
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @Tinu
 I can’t begin to express how much I prefer silence over this load of horsesh*t.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@BillGiltner  @Tinu But, Bill, from a brand and communications perspective, he HAS to do this. Otherwise the media continues to tell their own story. He has to get in front of it. Otherwise everyone else tells his story for him. Even if you don’t agree with what he says, he’s providing an answer and, while the media will report on it for a few days, they will no longer speculate because there is nothing more to say. Until then, the speculation continues and the crisis gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

BillGiltner
BillGiltner
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @Tinu
 In lieu of a statement from Armstrong, can’t Livestrong or any other Brand step up and make a statement along the lines that they respect the good intentions (and beneficial advocacy) of Armstrong over the years, have discussed the recent events with Armstrong, and have decided to discontinue any official relationship,

GNC_Dave
GNC_Dave
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich love it. I’m a fan like you. Reading the Tyler Hamilton book to try and sort out what I really think.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@GNC_Dave Oh that’s a good idea! I should do that, too

djenningspr
3 years 7 months ago
I still want to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy as well.  What Lance Armstrong did for cycling in those seven years competing at the Tour, was unbelievable.  Who can forget the year he drove off the course, narrowly avoiding a crash to finish the stage and ultimately win the tour.  When he fought the criticisim day in and day out that no one could pull through what he pulled through and compete, let alone win, I was cheering like everyone else.  I would love to see him apologize, but I seriously doubt I’ll see that… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@djenningspr To me, the bracelet represents my passion in cycling and in cancer research…not in my belief (or not) of Lance. It’s a Livestrong bracelet, not a Lance Armstrong bracelet. I spend a lot of time speaking and I know it’s going to say a lot about me, now, when people see me wearing it. I’m OK with that because I still believe in the organization and I’m still a huge cyclist.   I’m not ready to say I think he’s guilty. I still struggle with his not being indicted by a Grand Jury more than once, never having tested positive… Read more »
djenningspr
3 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich  @djenningspr  I hear you Gini.  For me, I’ll always support Livestrong, but I know how much the bracelet has come to symbolize the fight against cancer versus Lance.  A good friend of mine left me the following comment on my Facebook post, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind my sharing here. I’ve posted below.  As my mom used to say, where there’s wood there’s fire, and as much as I really really want to believe he’s innocent, and a part of me is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, I think it’s time to move on, at least… Read more »
JeffreyWShapiro
JeffreyWShapiro
3 years 7 months ago

Professional Development, How to Do It & Why http://t.co/dLGGfnnx @gnayyar @mhimss @att @thesleepdoctor @tedcoine @ginidietrich

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@JudySchaumburg Thanks Judy!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@SandiAmorim Thank you! It’s been rough in the comments

EricAgnew
EricAgnew
3 years 7 months ago

@700espn @ginidietrich @jeffespo *sigh* hate to see that its true, but #LanceLied.

700espn
700espn
3 years 7 months ago

@EricAgnew thanks for the tweet.

cloudspark
cloudspark
3 years 7 months ago

@ShellyKramer i’d been waiting for cycling enthusiast and pr maven @ginidietrich to write that post. http://t.co/b4rDjgmc

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