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    Posted October 17, 2012 by
    Canmore, Alberta
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Lance Armstrong speaks out



    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     gewl shot this photo on September 23 after the 120 kilometer Tour of Courage with Lance Armstrong in 2005. He was working as a driver during the event.

    The charity fundraiser -- one of a series of exclusive rides with Armstrong -- did not involve the Livestrong foundation; it was a private event arranged through Lance's management company benefitting the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

    UPDATE: After this iReport was posted, CNN received a statement from Calgary energy executive John Dielwart, one of the tour organizers, refuting many of the iReporter's claims.

    With regard to participants not receiving a tax receipt for their entire donation, Dielwart said, 'that had nothing to do with Lance. The tax rules do not allow receipts to be issued for the entire donation amount if tangible benefits were received by the donor. Events like this do not occur for free. Every rider received rider kits which included cycling gear and other gifts. The breakfasts and dinner are tangible benefits. Finally, the costs of supporting the ride with aid stations, medical personnel, transportation, etc. are also deemed to be benefits. The Tour of Courage Society determined that under the Revenus Canada guidelines, only $25,000 of the $35,000 donation qualified for a tax receipt. Every rider was informed about this in advance and did not have to participate if they didn't like those terms. To suggest Lance pocketed the balance as Mr. Leach does is ridiculous.'

    Dielwart acknowledged that Armstrong was paid to participate, 'but it was certainly nowhere near the amount claimed,' he said in the comments below. You can read more of his response in the comments under this iReport.

    The Calgary Tour of Courage Society has raised $6 million to sponsor a research chair in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Calgary / Tom Baker Cancer Center.

    'Lance and the Livestrong Foundation are iconic institutions,' Dielwart wrote. 'I have watched the man interact with cancer patients, survivors and their families in hospital cancer wards, on the road and in convention halls. I have never witnessed anything but care, compassion and empathy from Lance towards these fellow members of the club nobody wants to be part of. This is not the same person we see on the bike in competition. It is not for me to opine on allegations brought against Lance regarding his cycling career. However, if you asked anyone around the world who has received support from the Livestrong Foundation if they care about that, I'm sure the answer would be no.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    On Sept. 23, 2005 I participated in an event where Lance Armstrong came to Banff, Alberta, Canada to promote his foundation. There were two scheduled rides with contributors each who paid $ 35,000 (yes the amount is correct and not an error) to ride with Armstrong from Banff to The Columbia Icefields north of Lake Louise, AB. Following the ride, all participants including Armstrong were returned to Lake Louise by private luxury motorcoaches. I drove one of those coaches.


    Approximately 50 participants (riders/contributors) were involved in the event. While I drove to the pickup location where the ride was to end I passed the entire group including Armstrong and his "people". Armstrong was several miles ahead of the entire group of rider/contributors and appeared not to have any concern for their inability to maintain his pace. I thought that strange given that so many participants had paid so much money to ride with him, not several miles behind him.


    Upon reaching the pickup location I waited with my coach for the arrival of the group. Armstrong of course arrived first, literally throwing his bike to the ground and running to the other bus being used to shuttle him and participants back to Lake Louise. 20-30 minutes later the main body of riders arrived and shortly thereafter it became apparent that a group photo opportunity was being sought by the group as a whole. Armstrong finally emerged from the bus appearing agitated and annoyed by his requirement to be in the photo. Immediately following a very very brief photo shoot he "ran" back to the bus however was intercepted enroute by a lady with her small daughter. I was directly beside the woman and heard her ask "Mr. Armstrong would you mind if I took a picture of you with my daughter" Armstrong failed to respond however stopped to allow the photo and never uttered a sound to the young girl staring up at him. He then again raced to the bus and re-boarded for the 1.5 hour journey to Lake Louise.


    The group of participants split up with half on each of the motor coaches. I had approximately 25 people and throughout the entire ride all everyone spoke of was the unbelievable arrogance and ignorance of Armstrong. 3-4 people congregated around the driver area of the bus and engaged me in conversation. Several stated they wouldn't ride on the same bus with Armstrong even if it were the only available option. I then learned that many of the participants were extremely angered by their discovery that while each had paid $ 35,000 for their ability to ride with Armstrong they were only being provided with tax receipts for their contribution in the amount of $ 25,000. They had learned that only that amount was provided to the foundation and that $ 10,000 from each participant went directly "into Armstrong's jeans". I was stunned to learn this and later asked several other riders after the return to Lake Louise if they were aware they were only to receive a $ 25,000 receipt. All replied affirmatively and all I spoke with were disgusted at the discovery that so much went directly to Armstrong. Doing the math, he personally received $500,000 for going on a 3 hour ride where he really didn't even interact with the contributing riders. The ride was repeated the following day with another 50 different rider/contributors on a ride from Lake Louise to Canmore, Alberta. Although I did not participate in the transportion the following day I assume the same formula applied meaning that Armstrong had a million dollar weekend with only a little over 70% of the contributions going to the foundation.


    I applaude Armstrong for his efforts and contribution to the search for a cure to cancer however I believe it is unknown to most in the world how much he really personally makes for his efforts. While his involvement may be extensive it is certainly well paid.


    In closing, I wanted to add that my personal opinion is that I am skeptical as to whether Armstrong ever really was a cancer victim/survivor or whether this was another of his scams to fool the world, his followers and those suffering from the disease. While the foundation does incredible work their founder may be a fraud but for the ultimate goal the money is needed no matter what the source.


    I proudly wore a LIVESTRONG arm band for many years however cut it from my wrist after witnessing and learning of the Armstrong's attitude towards contributors and his lack of disclosure to and misconceptions sold to contributors of his iniatives.


    I am attaching a photo taken with the group moments after Armstrong's handlers pried him off the bus for the photo.


    I would be happy to discuss my experience with anyone should they require further information.


    Garry LEACH

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