Today, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, cycling champion and founder and chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), announced the creation of the LIVESTRONG - Global Cancer Awareness Campaign focused on supporting the 25 million people living with cancer worldwide, dispelling the misconceptions surrounding the disease and urging world leaders to make cancer a greater priority.
"I'm returning to cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden," said Mr. Armstrong. "While my intention is to train and compete as fiercely as I always have, this time I will gauge victory by how much progress we make against cancer, a disease that will claim 8 million lives this year alone.
"Our campaign will appeal to every person affected by cancer as well as their nations' leaders and we intend to visit, race and train in those countries that join our cause. We will reach out to those who suffer in silence and connect them with a community of cancer survivors to give them strength and hope. And we will appeal to world leaders, asking for their help in fighting a disease from which millions die needlessly. United, we can win the fight against cancer."
Cancer is a leading cause of death that is projected to claim 12 million lives by 2030. Deaths due to cancer outnumber those caused by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Following 18 months of worldwide research, the LAF found widespread misconceptions, stigma and lack of awareness associated with cancer.
For many countries, cancer is considered a death sentence, causing people to avoid seeking prevention, detection and treatment. Because many still believe cancer to be contagious, those affected by the disease are frequently isolated and stigmatized by their communities. Often, the causes of the disease and the growing success in treating cancer are unknown.
Mr. Armstrong unveiled the LIVESTRONG - Global Cancer Awareness Campaign before world leaders, policy makers and non-profit organizations gathered at the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Speaking to attendees, Mr. Armstrong appealed for their support and invited them to attend the LIVESTRONG - Global Cancer Summit, scheduled for July 28, 2009, in Paris, following the Tour de France.
"I am so pleased that Lance Armstrong and his foundation made a commitment to increase their efforts to raise awareness and inspire action to fight cancer on a global scale," President Clinton said. "This campaign is a great example of what can be done to address pressing challenges in new and measurable ways - which is what the Clinton Global Initiative is all about."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was among the first to lend his support to raising cancer awareness around the world.
"Tens of millions of eyes will be on the Tour, and this is our chance to captivate a captive audience," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Awareness is a key to cancer prevention and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make people aware of what they can do and how they can get involved."
Mr. Armstrong also revealed details of his return to cycling. He will be reuniting with Johan Bruyneel, his long time team director and the architect of his seven Tour de France wins, on Team Astana. Mr. Armstrong described a rekindled desire throughout the past year to reengage in professional cycling. His commitment to the sport and to its growth is exemplified by his long-term partnership with Mr. Bruyneel as a Pro Tour rider and owner, as a mentor and owner of the Trek Under 23 Developmental Team, and as a local owner of a bike shop in Austin, Texas.
Mr. Armstrong also announced his commitment to changing the culture of drug testing in professional sports through his team's retention of Dr. Don Catlin, a leading expert in identifying and detecting the use of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports. Dr. Catlin will design the most comprehensive program ever implemented for a professional athlete. The goal of the program will be to change current thinking about testing and make it possible for athletes to prove they are racing clean rather than trying to prove they did not cheat. All of Lance's blood work and testing will be posted online at www.livestrong.com
"Lance has been very specific about his desire for the complete transparency and availability of his results," said Dr. Catlin. "The program we have developed for him will be thorough, rigorous and leave no room for speculation."
Mr. Armstrong also announced highlights of his racing schedule which will include the Tour Down Under in Australia beginning January 18, 2009 (his first race since the 2005 Tour de France), and the Tour de France which begins July 4, 2009, in Monaco.Biography: Don Catlin, M.D.CEO of Anti-Doping Research & Professor Emeritus at the UCLA School of Medicine.
For 26 years, Dr. Don Catlin has been at the forefront of the global battle against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, and he is often referred to as one of the fathers of drug testing in sport. In 1982, Dr. Catlin founded the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, the first anti-doping lab in the United States, and served as its director for 25 years. Under his stewardship, the lab grew to become the world's largest.At the UCLA Olympic Lab, Dr. Catlin oversaw the drug testing at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the 1994 Soccer World Cup and the testing for anabolic agents at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
Among other breakthroughs, he and his lab team developed the testing methodology that differentiates natural from artificial testosterone; inaugurated the test for darbepoetin, a long-acting form of the blood booster medicine EPO; were first to report the use of a designer steroid (norbolethone) in sport; and marshaled the analytic work behind the BALCO scandal, which involved identifying the designer steroid THG.
In 2005, as part of an effort to keep up with the continual introduction of new and ever-evolving performance-enhancing drugs in competition, Dr. Catlin and colleagues founded Anti-Doping Research (ADR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and testing development. One of ADR's current priorities is developing a reliable urine test to detect the use of human growth hormone (hGH)--a long-sought-after goal that Dr. Catlin believes is within reach.
Dr. Catlin also serves as Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine and is the author of over 100 articles in scientific publications. He is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency Health, Medical and Research Committee and a member of the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission, the two organizations charged with oversight of the drug testing at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
About the Lance Armstrong Foundation
The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) unites people through programs and experiences to empower cancer survivors to live life on their own terms and to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer. The LAF focuses on cancer prevention, access to screening and care, research and quality of life for cancer survivors. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LAF has raised more than $260 million for the fight against cancer and distributed more than 60 million LIVESTRONG wristbands to help make cancer a global priority. This year, the LAF became a supporter of the World Cancer Declaration endorsed by the UICC World Cancer Congress 2008. The LAF encourages all individuals to show their support by signing the declaration at www.livestrong.org.