Why did Lance Armstrong's decision to stop fighting doping allegations—and thereby consent to being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles—drive up donations to his charity so sharply? Armstrong gave up the ghost Thursday; on Friday donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation rose by a factor of 25.
In announcing his decision, Armstrong issued a statement that, while it was surprisingly light on direct denials of doping, was otherwise designed to drum up sympathy. On Thursday night, the reality was pretty mundane: Armstrong had simply run up against a deadline for deciding whether to accept or formally challenge the USADA's sanctions. But Armstrong's press release about the choice portrays a man defiantly making his priorities known, above the influence of deadlines and insensible to the likelihood of losing in court. Armstrong claimed to be the subject of a "witch hunt," the victim of bullies, threats, and double standards, and the target of personal vendettas. The statement even injected a little drama—a "hunt" of any kind is a lot more exciting than the inevitable outcome of a bureaucratic testing process that has slowly but surely ensnared just about every successful cyclist since Armstrong came on the scene. If you weren't already convinced Lance was the good guy in all this, the last paragraph mentions "families affected by cancer," "underserved communities," and contrasts the goals of his foundation with the "pointless distraction" of the USADA investigation.