Embattled Armstrong vows to move forward

Lance Armstrong, making his first public remarks since he was branded the key figure in a massive doping scandal, alluded to recent tough times but made no other concession to controversy.

"It's been a difficult couple of weeks for me and my family, my friends and this foundation," Armstrong told some 1,500 supporters at a gala fundraiser for cancer charity Livestrong.

On a more defiant note he yesterday added: "We will not be deterred. We will move forward." Armstrong, a cancer survivor, founded Livestrong 15 years ago. But on Wednesday he stepped down as chairman in an effort to protect the foundation from the scandal swirling around him.

That was the same day that corporate sponsors, including sportswear giant Nike, stampeded away from him in the uproar over the US Anti-Doping Agency's damning report, which accused Armstrong of being at the heart of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme" ever seen in sport.

On Monday, the International Cycling Union is to announce it's response to the report, and whether it backs the American agency's demand that Armstrong be banned for life and stripped of the seven Tour de France titles that made him a sports icon.

An outcast now in cycling, Armstrong said it was imperative that Livestrong continue to fulfill its aims. "The mission absolutely must go on," Armstrong said.

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