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Founder Lance severs all ties

Austin: Lance Armstrong has stepped down as a board member of Livestrong, the cancer-support charity he founded in 1997.

“Lance Armstrong has chosen to voluntarily resign from the board of directors of the Livestrong Foundation to spare the organisation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding his cycling career,” Livestrong chairman Jeff Garvey said in a statement.

“We are deeply grateful to Lance for creating a cause that has served millions of cancer survivors and their families.”

Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer, had previously stepped down as Livestrong’s chairman.

The 41-year-old had his seven Tour de France victories nullified and was banned from cycling for life last month after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) sanctions against him.

USADA published a report that said the now-retired rider had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane said that Armstrong “remains the inspiration” for the charity and is its largest donor, having contributed $7 million. She said Armstrong will remain involved with Livestrong, just not as a board member.

Garvey added: “Lance Armstrong was instrumental in changing the way the world views people affected by cancer.

“His devotion to serving survivors is unparalleled and for 15 years, he committed himself to that cause with all his heart on behalf of the Livestrong Foundation.”

Armstrong resigned from the board of directors for Livestrong on November 4. He had previously resigned as chairman from the charity he founded October 17 but had kept a seat on the board.

Armstrong has not comment publicly on the USADA report and recently returned to Austin from Hawaii. Over the weekend, he posted a photograph on Twitter of him lying on a couch at his home with seven yellow Tour de France jerseys mounted on the wall.

He also has lost his personal sponsors, including Nike and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, who dropped their contracts with him or said they would not renew when current deals expire.

The USADA report said Armstrong and his teams used steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions. The report included statements from 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong.

Armstrong denies doping, pointing to hundreds of passed drug tests. But he chose not to fight USADA in one of the agency’s arbitration hearings, saying the process was biased against him.