Monday 23 October 2017

Fears of public backlash against charity as Lance Armstrong promotes Cycle Ataxia

Lance Armstrong wearing Cycle Ataxia t-shirt
Lance Armstrong wearing Cycle Ataxia t-shirt
Barry Rice has organises cycling events to raise awareness of, and funds to help those with the little known condition, Friedreich’s Ataxia

David Kearns

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is at the centre of a promotion conundrum for Cycle Ataxia after he was photographed in a t-shirt for their cycling fundraiser.

Veteran Friedrich’s Ataxia campaigner Barry Rice, who manages the event, contacted the seven time Tour de France winner and asked him to wear one of the group’s tops to raise awareness for an upcoming fundraiser.

Now the 33-year-old said he is afraid of a public backlash if he uses the image.

“I asked him to wear the t-shirt because I thought it would do good for the event but I never realised just how much hate there was for Armstrong,” Barry told RTE’s Liveline.

“My predicament is, if I use the image to promote us, will it do more harm than good?”

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Barry, who suffers from Friedrich’s Ataxia himself, said he was seeking to gauge public opinion on whatever it was right to use the disgraced Tour de France winner to promote awareness of the condition.

In 2013, Lance Armstrong suffered a breathtaking fall from grace when he confessed that he had cheated to win the Tour de France.

Since then, the cyclist has been plagued by court cases and calls to have him stripped of his championships.

“What he did was absolutely unacceptable; it was a terrible disservice to the sport. But then there’s the other side to Lance Armstrong, one that has helped raise millions for cancer charities,” he said.

“There’s no doubt he is a bare-faced liar but I’m not here to judge Lance Armstrong – I’m just trying to help raise awareness for Cycle Ataxia.”

“Honestly, I think there’s two sides Armstrong; the hero and villain. And I don’t know which the public will respond to.”

Cycle Ataxia 2015 is to take place on June 20 and aims to raise funds to towards finding a cure for Friedrich’s Ataxia, a rare degenerative neuro-muscular disorder.

For those interested in getting involved in the event, more information is available at www.cycleataxia.ie

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