Rise in donations to LAF

The Lance Armstrong Foundation said on Friday that donations rose sharply as fans of the cancer non-profit pledged support, but the organisation faces long-term questions about its future now that its cycling champion founder was stripped of a record seven Tour de France titles.

At the foundation's light-filled headquarters in the Texas capital, where Armstrong lives, a receptionist took a call from a well-wisher, a scene that Chief Executive Doug Ulman said was repeated throughout the day in an outpouring of calls, emails and social media messages, many from cancer survivors touched by the foundation's work.

"It's people offering to help in any way they can, people committing to additional donations, people saying, 'I'm going to go buy a Livestrong shirt to show my support,'" Ulman said. "So the mood is actually pretty positive."

Armstrong was stripped of his Tour titles and handed a lifetime ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after he said on Thursday that he would not challenge USADA's charges that he had doped throughout his career. He continued to deny that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs. Ulman said the supporters of the foundation "respect Lance's decision and I think they just want to move on."

The 100-employee foundation said it received 400 donations totaling $75,000 on Friday, an increase of 20 times from the amount donated the day before. Ulman said the organisation, which raised $51 million in 2011, "is incredibly sound financially."

But the fact that the foundation bears Armstrong's name puts the organisation in a tough spot, said John Daly, a professor of communication at the University of Texas at Austin.

"It's like calling it the Enron Foundation - there's a challenge there," Daly said, referring to the energy company that filed for bankruptcy in 2001. "People who have given to it or know what it does probably won't be bothered. But it's going to be hard to write a donation letter right now."

Armstrong now is the foundation's top donor and is serving a term as chairman of the board. "In my mind and in our minds, he's still a champion for sure," Ulman said.

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