Lance Armstrong Hollywood Supporters to Attend Fundraiser Despite Scandal
In the wake of Lance Armstrong stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong charity, supporters in Hollywood still plan on attending the organization's 15th anniversary gala Friday.
Reps for Ben Stiller, Robin Williams and Sean Penn confirm to The Hollywood Reporter that the stars will travel to Austin to participate in the Livestrong fundraising event in spite of the scandal surrounding doping allegations against Armstrong. The cycling star and cancer survivor is scheduled to make an appearance at the event, as is singer Norah Jones.
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Both Nike and Anheuser-Busch severed major endorsement deals with the renowned cyclist a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a damning report detailing "overwhelming" evidence of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams during his seven consecutive Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005.
Armstrong, who founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 and began promoting it as Livestrong in 2003 (the foundation now is known by both names), walked away from his chairman position Wednesday "to spare the foundation any negative effect as result of the controversy surrounding my cycling career," he said in a statement.
Livestrong's president and CEO Doug Ulman said last week, however, that Armstrong's leadership role would not change and that he will remain a visible advocate for the charity's purpose.
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Nike dropped him Wednesday, and Anheuser-Busch later announced it will let Armstrong's contract expire. The beer maker's U.S. vp marketing Paul Chibe said in a statement: "We have decided not to renew our relationship with Lance Armstrong when our current contract expires at the end of 2012. We will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation and its cycling and running events."
Other companies announcing Wednesday they were severing ties with Armstrong include Giro Helmets, which created the $15,000 helmet he wore for the 2010 Tour de France; Trek Bicycles; and energy drink maker FRS.
A distinction is being made between the Armstrong controversy and the efforts of his Livestrong charity, which has raised about $500 million to support cancer research. As with members of the entertainment industry, both Nike and Anheuser-Busch plan to continue supporting Livestrong initiatives.
Contributions to the charity actually have increased this year despite the Armstrong controversy. The foundation has reported revenue of $33.8 million so far in 2012, up 2.1 percent from this point a year ago, according to Reuters.