Q&A With Doug Ulman, President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

10.7.2008 | 8:32 am

On September 25, I attended the Lance Armstrong press conference. I had a few questions written down about how Lance hoped to use his return to the sport to fight cancer, so kept my hand in the air for pretty much the whole conference.

Toward the end, I bounced up and down and waved that arm around vigorously, thinking that maybe if I looked like I really needed to use the bathroom, Lance would call on me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask my questions — it turns out that Greg Lemond figured that he needed some extra quality time with Lance, and the rest of us could just wait.

Of course, I still got a photo of me with Eddy Merckx, so I have no regrets, but I still had my questions.

So I emailed them to Doug Ulman, President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (I have his email address because he sent me a really nice “thanks” email after the Ibis Silk SL raffle).

And you know what? He answered them. Pretty cool, if you ask me. And I didn’t even have to frantically wave my arm around in the air.

Here we go:

How will Lance riding as a pro help achieve the 3 goals stated in the Global Cancer Initiative?
He will be riding in countries all over the world and while there, engage with world leaders to talk about cancer in their country and how they might make a commitment to address the cancer burden.

He will also be a visible sign that cancer is not a death sentence and challenge the myths and misperceptions often associated with the disease. Through his appearances and media interviews, Lance will speak about the importance of cancer survivors sharing their stories and advocating for their rights to their leaders.

Say it’s Autumn 2010. What needs to have happened for you and Lance to call his return to pro cycling a success? What needs to have happened for you to call the Global Cancer Initiative a success?
For the Global cancer Initiative to have been a success, leaders and advocates from around the world will have participated in a world cancer summit in Paris at the conclusion of the Tour de France and have made significant commitments to address the cancer burden in their countries. Also, advocates from around the world will have been trained to ensure their governments are held accountable for the commitments made.

What new ways will people who are already fans of Lance and the LAF be able to leverage Lance’s return to pro cycling to further their efforts toward fighting cancer?
We will be asking people to visit www.livestrong.org to learn how they can take action and stay informed as to how they can make an impact in their community and country.

What ways do you hope to garner attention from those who aren’t interested in pro cycling or Lance’s return to it?
We hope to build momentum and global awareness that cancer should be on the agenda of all world leaders and that everyone has a role to play in reducing the burden of the disease – from individual health behavior to advocating for change to their leaders.

I’ve asked Doug — and Katherine McLane, Communications Director at LAF — to check in on this site a few times today. If you’ve got questions about LAF or the Global Cancer Initiative, post a comment and they might answer.

And Mr. Lemond, please don’t even think about hijacking my comments section.

Last Day for the Ciclismo Classico Raffle
As you have no doubt noticed, I’m not even remotely close to being an impartial journalistic type when it comes to LAF. I’m a fan. And I’m a fan because I’ve seen firsthand what good work they’re doing.

And that’s why I do these raffles.

Sure, there’s an outside chance you’ll win an awesome cycling trip in Italy or France, but probably not. No matter what, though, you’re helping fight cancer. And I can’t think of a fight that matters more. So click here to enter the raffle. You’ll find out who the winner is tomorrow — and hey, maybe it’ll be you!

Regardless, thanks for reading this past week while I focus on more serious topics, and thanks for joining in the fight.


  1. Comment by Greg Lemond | 10.7.2008 | 8:55 am

    Why can’t I be given a fair hearing? I have valid questions. It’s not fair.

  2. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 10.7.2008 | 9:02 am

    Damn it. I missed the first comment by a gnats hair. And I was going to slag off at Lemond but it looks like he’s pretty much buried himself with his whinging and self promotion once again.

    So Greg, remind me again how many tours you won. Oh, less than half of Lance’s total. Sit down and shut up, you’re not qualified to talk here.

  3. Comment by Bryan | 10.7.2008 | 9:08 am

    Fatty, great post.

    Dear Mr. Lemond up in the top spot,

    Please see my recent post on why you are the ultimate bicycling tool.

    Greg Lemond, the ultimate bicycling tool


  4. Comment by Hamish A | 10.7.2008 | 9:17 am

    *Laughs and points (again) at Lemond* How’d you like them apples?

    Fatty, by posting serious questions (and answers) like these you run the risk of turning FCFNS into a genuine source of real news… ;-)

    It’s pretty cool that a man with as much on his plate as Doug Ulman will respond to questions like this.

    My question (and I apologize it’s not entirely related to the LAF and its works) is this: Do Lance & the LAF feel that joining Astana is the best way to spread the message about the initiative? Would a dedicated Livestrong team not have been a more fitting vehicle?

    Whatever happens over the coming race seasons I’m excited to see Lance back and racing / campaigning for such a good cause.

    WIN Susan!!!

  5. Comment by Jeff | 10.7.2008 | 9:19 am

    To get Lance’s attention you probably should have punched LeMond in the face to shut him up. I believe that would have pleased Lance (and others) greatly.

    Also, it probably would have resulted in roughly a zillion hits on your blog.

  6. Comment by Philly Jen | 10.7.2008 | 9:21 am

    Howdy, LAF-ers!

    Given the fact that Lance found his way into cycling via triathlons, along with the fact that registration in USA Triathlon has been skyrocketing during the last several years, would you consider hosting a LiveStrong Tri event sometime in the not-too-distant future?

    And if you do, please consider hosting it in Philly!
    (If we can face down cancer together, we can certainly survive swimming in the Schuylkill River.)

    * WIN Susan *

  7. Comment by KanyonKris | 10.7.2008 | 9:28 am

    Fatty – Good questions, and mostly good replies. Their strategy still seems a little squishy, but hard to argue with the logic that Lance returning to racing will bring more exposure to him and the cancer fight.

    Jeff – You are a marketing evil genius. Any publicity is good publicity, you missed your change, Fatty.

  8. Comment by Di | 10.7.2008 | 9:41 am

    It’s nice that Livestrong.org exists, but it seems more like “brochure” site. It seems very targeted without the right kind of substance (my opinion).

    As a healthcare worker, it is important to me that people take the initiative to lead healthy lifestyles and SHOW UP to their yearly doctors appointments AND any necessary testing. While there are always exceptions, there are some cancers that can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle and some that are quite treatable and q

  9. Comment by Di | 10.7.2008 | 9:44 am

    It’s nice that Livestrong.org exists, but it seems more like “brochure” site. It seems very targeted without the right kind of substance (my opinion). It just seems distant.

    As a health care worker, it is important to me that people take the initiative to lead healthy lifestyles and SHOW UP to their yearly doctors appointments AND any necessary testing. While there are always exceptions, there are some cancers that can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle and some that are quite treatable and quite survivable with early detection. These are things we can do NOW.

    With that said, is Livestrong.org considering posting information regarding regular checkups, screening processes, and lifestyle changes that will make a huge difference to the very people they are trying to save?

  10. Comment by 331miles | 10.7.2008 | 9:45 am

    LAF Folks,

    You’ve obviously had major success with some of the LIVESTRONG merchandise, especially the wristbands. Any plans on partnering with a bike manufacturer and branding a LIVESTRONG road bike?

  11. Comment by dug | 10.7.2008 | 10:42 am

    i really don’t understand the lemond hating. he was a worthy champion in the day, he beat legends in the sport, he recovered from huge adversity to win again.

    he may be odd, maybe even a jerk, and he may have a running feud with lance armstrong (who is no saint, despite all the massive good he’s done), but why the hate? he asks real questions, he talks of actual evidence.

    maybe he has little sense of place. maybe he has no social grace. but he’s not a crackpot talking crazy. before lance armstrong, he was the greatest american cyclist ever. except maybe major taylor.

  12. Comment by Don | 10.7.2008 | 10:47 am

    Any chance that you’ll have livestrong challenges in cities other than Philly, San Jose, Portland and Austin? I think people would LOVE to see added venues or shifting venues year to year. There is a slight risk that you would have a bit of a drop off, but I think you would pick up a great deal of people that are more centralized around the locations every year. For the record, Cleveland is an awesome city… lots of great riding!

  13. Comment by The other Jared | 10.7.2008 | 10:51 am

    My only question for LAF is where they will be putting the emphasis (spelling?) Will they be advocating treatment and reaching people where they are in their battle with cancer? Or will they be advocating yet more research for a cure?

  14. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.7.2008 | 11:03 am

    Di – I think you need to poke around http://www.livestrong.org a little more if you think it is just a “brochure site” There are a number of helpful links there, as well as a storehouse of helpful information on how a cancer victim can become a cancer survivor – living STRONG. I know, it sounds like I am just cheerleading.

    So, as far as diagnosis and treatment info, try this link:



  15. Comment by Boz | 10.7.2008 | 11:03 am

    Hamish A – I think Lance will morph the team into something like “Livastanastrong” from the new breakaway republic of Lancarmstrongistan. Or something like that.

  16. Comment by Cyclechic | 10.7.2008 | 11:12 am

    What percentage of the monies raised towards the LAF organization goes towards advertising, race expenses and other overhead and what percentage actually goes towards the pursuit of curing cancer, cancer prevention, and patient assistance?

  17. Comment by Don | 10.7.2008 | 11:13 am

    Di (& Clydesteve for reference only):
    Not to mention the livestrong.com website they just started… equally very cool!

  18. Comment by MikeonhisBike | 10.7.2008 | 11:57 am

    I’ve got a question. Is there a plan B if Team Astana isn’t allowed to compete in the Tour de France next year? That would put a major wrinkle in your plans.


  19. Pingback by LIVESTRONG Blog | The Lance Armstrong Foundation Blog » Blog Archive » Interview with Doug on Fat Cyclist | 10.7.2008 | 12:44 pm

    [...] to let y’all know about a post on the Fat Cyclist blog that was posted today. Elden, a long time advocate, and friend of the Foundation, recently had [...]

  20. Comment by Katherine McLane, LAFer | 10.7.2008 | 12:54 pm

    Dear Cyclechic, I like your name, by the way. As to your question, if you’re asking about Lance’s return to pro cycling, the answer is 0. There’s an iron curtain between funds raised for cancer and his professional efforts. Nary the twain meet. And Lance said no thanks to getting a salary for cycling. He’s measuring success not by speed or dollar amounts but by how much change we can effect and awareness we can raise of our global cancer burden.

  21. Comment by Katherine McLane, LAFer | 10.7.2008 | 12:55 pm

    Dear The Other Jared: You’ve nailed one of our biggest considerations in planning this campaign and what we came up with is…it depends! Different cultures have different needs and challenges when it comes to cancer and in order to be effective, we have to tailor our outreach and message. Stigma may be the biggest problem in some areas so we’ll put the emphasis on cancer perpection in those areas. In others, healthcare access may be the biggest problem so we’d focus on strategies to promote accessibility and affordability. But our founder’s original intent was to support other people affected by cancer and that’s something we’ll always keep in our sites.

  22. Comment by Katherine McLane, LAFer | 10.7.2008 | 1:02 pm

    Dear Don: Great question. We’re always looking for opportunities to expand our Challenges and you juuuuust might see some of that in the next few seasons. Our LIVESTRONG Challenge team always has their ears to the ground. Who knows? They may be striding the streets of YOUR city as I write, assessing routes and weather and gauging enthusiasm. So Don, look enthusiastic! (I’ll nominate Cleveland to our Challenge team for ya.)

  23. Comment by Don | 10.7.2008 | 1:05 pm

    Thank you Katherine!
    Your answer is very much appreciated.

  24. Comment by Dobovedo | 10.7.2008 | 1:44 pm

    Don beat me to the same question, which I have asked about through LAF contact in the past. I’d love to do a Livestrong ride, but they are a bit far for me. I’d give a big plus vote to Cleveland (or somewhere else Midwesty), since I am in Ohio as well. I’m guessing my little town of Piqua wouldn’t make the short list.

    If you build it, I will come.

  25. Comment by Cyclechic | 10.7.2008 | 2:40 pm

    Hi Katherine

    Thanks for the compliment on the name and thank you for your response.

    I’m afraid you misunderstood my question (or I didn’t explain it properly). I was curious as to how much of the funds raised goes towards cancer patients and how much goes towards the general overhead of LAF (in percentage) If I were to donate $100 to someone raising money for a ride (for example), how much of that goes towards curing cancer or cancer treatment?

  26. Comment by Katherine McLane, LAFer | 10.7.2008 | 3:12 pm

    Dear Cyclechic,
    I like this question even better! We do very well in this regard compared to many non-profits and I always enjoy a chance to talk about it. Or about anything, for that matter. Now about that hundred bucks of yours…a full $80 will go to support survivors, community programs, grants and research. Fourteen dollars of your much-appreciated donation will be invested to help us continue to raise funds with events like the Challenge. And $6 will go to keeping the lights on here at the LAF, getting our ink cartridges replaced and keeping our hard-working LAF team members out of the poor house.

  27. Comment by Jodi | 10.7.2008 | 3:16 pm

    Wow Elden. This is awesome – I really don’t think too many organizations, even ones out to do good on the planet, give the common (or fat) man one-on-one access.

    I like the LAF’s style. And they posted your picture of Lance to Susan on their site. I totally feel the love!

    I wish I had something intelligent to ask. I’ll just remind people that I’m your sister for now. That’s all I got.

  28. Comment by Katherine McLane, LAFer | 10.7.2008 | 3:27 pm

    Dear Dobovedo,
    If it were up to me, we’d be in Piqua tomorrow. Luckily for the organization, I’m only allowed to do PR and communications and answer questions on Elden’s website. (Thanks, by the way, Elden, for the opportunity to chat with folks!) But we have gotten a lot of feedback about the need for a Challenge in the Midwest and it’s something we’d love to do in the future. So if Piqua becomes a major American metropolis, Dobo, we’re there!

  29. Comment by 'crossingClaus | 10.7.2008 | 3:58 pm

    LAF: It seems to me that there is a significant lack of appreciation amongst the general public as to the causes of cancer. My experience is that many people don’t understand the general relationship between carcinogens (stuff that causes cancer) and cancer occurrence.

    There are major consequences of this under-education of the general public. Many things people could be doing to reduce their cancer risk (e.g. quitting smoking – the most well-known, reducing asbestos exposure, reducing exposure to hazardous air pollutants, just to name a few) remain undone because they don’t understand the system in question. Genetic predisposition certainly pays a large role in determining cancer risk, but many experts now agree that all cancer occurrence is traceable to some carcinogenic exposure.

    I don’t hear much (any) talk from the LAF about increasing public awareness about the root causes of cancer – both genetic and environmental. Why is this? Do you have plans to do so in the future? Are there portions of your work that do address this issue that I am not aware of?

  30. Comment by Grant | 10.7.2008 | 5:28 pm

    This is in response to a couple of comments regarding cancer prevention/awareness…

    There are many different support organisations that are involved to some degree with cancer and its impact. Some raise money for research, some assist cancer patients, some help their families, some raise awareness of causes and prevention…

    LAF is there to “unite people to fight cancer”. This does not mean they are not interested in the causes, but what they do is incredibly important and essential, and perhaps other organisations are better suited at this stage to raise issues of prevention and cause. In my mind, LAF seems to be less about blame, and more about dealing with the “now”…

    My work allows us to make a donation to a number of charities directly through our pay, and we had a presentation day where the charities told us what they were about. There were 2 charities involved with cancer – one was a research institute, and the other was the Starlight Foundation. The research institute seemed to be largely not interested in current cancer patients as people – just in researching prevention or possibly cure, whereas the Starlight Foundation is focused on quality of life for cancer patients – not interested in the prognosis as such, just making sure that the patients are able to enjoy life now.

    These 2 organisations are almost diametrically opposed in philosophy, yet both of their causes are valid and important. Just like the LAF is valid in its goal to “inspire and empower people affected by cancer”.

  31. Comment by Kathleen | 10.7.2008 | 5:37 pm

    Fatty – brilliant idea! Katherine, thanks for joining the discussion. I’m with Philly Jen on the triathlon front but can we do it in San Francisco? Who’s afraid of a few sharks?

  32. Comment by Bjorn 4Lycra | 10.7.2008 | 6:09 pm

    We are still collectively holding our breath here in Adelaide waiting for the announcement that Lance is in fact going to be able to ride in our tour in January. I can tell you the buzz down here is enormous and the fight against cancer as a result is on the front page. If the reaction here is anything to go by then his return to cycling and raising greater awareness for the fight against cancer is already a success. To Lance and the LAF we are really looking forward to welcoming you in January and joining with you in the fight. Livestrong.

  33. Comment by Ian | 10.7.2008 | 6:37 pm

    We lament when our childhood idols die young; Gehrig, Morrison, Hendrix, Phoenix etc. However, sometimes our childhood idols grow older, become bitter has-beens and disappoint us in ways we never thought possible. I kept hoping GL would get over it and move on… but it seems that will not happen. Oh well.

  34. Comment by dr_robert | 10.8.2008 | 12:11 am

    Katherine McLane, LAFer wrote: “Now about that hundred bucks of yours…a full $80 will go to support survivors, community programs, grants and research. Fourteen dollars of your much-appreciated donation will be invested to help us continue to raise funds with events like the Challenge. And $6 will go to keeping the lights on here at the LAF”

    Very impressive. I doubt there are many non-profits that could claim much better results than that.

  35. Comment by Nix | 10.8.2008 | 2:07 am

    I really admire the work the LAF is doing in the US. Wish we had something like that, but then involved with AIDS here in South Africa. There are a number of organisations trying, like 46664, but still a lot needs to be done. Have the feeling that the power of the LAF is part in the fact that normal people come to the challenge.

    In general the feeling is when you have Aids, that is the end of your life and a lot of young people just give up. There is no cure for it, but you can live with Aids. There used to be no cure for cancer and look at what we’re able to do now. Some side effects of these drugs are not pretty, but beats giving up the fight.

    He, will Lance do the Cape Argus in March?


  36. Comment by buckythedonkey | 10.8.2008 | 3:05 am

    It’s there all right: http://livestrongblog.org/

    I think Lance should ride the Smithfield Nocturne. :-)

    I know it’s bad form to comment on a previous entry but I didn’t see yesterday’s piece until this sunny morning. Thanks for the update, love to the lot of you and…


  37. Comment by Philly Jen | 10.8.2008 | 5:32 am

    FYI, folks, if you want to learn more about operational expenses and relative efficiencies for major charities, swing by the Charity Navigator site at charitynavigator.org.

    Charity Navigator breaks down information from each organization’s most recent IRS Form 990 to let you see roughly how the money is spent. Check it out, it’s good stuff.

  38. Comment by Anonymous | 10.8.2008 | 7:15 am

    Jodi – “I like the LAF’s style. And they posted your picture of Lance to Susan on their site. I totally feel the love!”
    Where can I find this pic on the LAF website? I looked but couldn’t find it.

  39. Comment by John Calliott | 10.8.2008 | 7:15 am

    I e-mailed the Tour Down Under people a suggestion a couple of days ago in case Lance isn’t able to race. It’s been announced that he’ll go to Australia to train and spread the word anyway. I’ve heard cycling announcers say that they rode portions of a stage prior to going to work. Giro fans ride their bikes up the big climbs and then wait to watch the race. If Lance can’t race, maybe he could do a training ride on the stage in Livestrong gear with a couple of teammates. If the road is already closed, it wouldn’t take much support, and it will give the fans a chance to see him ride while they wait for the official racers. He could treat it as a kind of time trial to see how he does compared to the stage winners. It’s not great, but it might draw more fans and publicity, and it could help Lance have better quality training rides while down there.

  40. Comment by Emily | 10.8.2008 | 9:50 am

    Whoa. My new Fat Cyclist jersey just arrived (way earlier than I thought it would) and it looks great. But can you explain the nice juicy dinner quote in the back pocket? Its very mysterious.

  41. Comment by Jodi | 10.8.2008 | 10:02 am

    Hey Anonymous – look here:


    I just would like Lance to know that based on that picture I would happily take care of his digs in NYC anytime he’s out of town, as I enjoy the view of Central Park he seems to have.

    What can I say? I’m a giver.

  42. Comment by Fat Bike Racer | 10.8.2008 | 10:44 am

    Hey Doug,
    Do you know of anyone with a belt drive Spot singlespeed and can you give us some info on how its going?

  43. Comment by Carla | 10.8.2008 | 12:06 pm

    Dobo might be in Piqua – Tipp is smaller (hehe). A LAF event in the midwest would bring so many people. I can personally say that LiveStrong has been a huge help to Blake (previous post on this blog).

  44. Comment by Marcia | 10.10.2008 | 12:28 pm

    One more thought for those looking for real efforts and results of LAF…check out the Local LiveStrong Army program. Launched exactly one year ago, there are now 325 Local LiveStrong Armies…each suppported by LAF, but deciding and doing local, real life, daily work. You will soon be able to locate a local connection on the LAF website, but in the meantime the LAF contact is Sarah Smazal. Consider joining the fight.

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