Haddonfield, January 23, 2013: Having finally acknowledged a history of doping, Lance Armstrong’s legacy is now that of a lying cheater, according to the results of a study conducted by Turnkey Intelligence. “Fans now realize that sports heroes are human – they make mistakes,” said Steve Seiferheld, Senior Vice President for consumer research at Turnkey Intelligence. “But you can’t lie about those mistakes and expect fans to forgive. You can’t disrespect the fans; you’ve got to come clean right away – before you’re caught.”
Turnkey’s survey found that 72% of sports fans will remember Armstrong as “a cheater within professional sports”, compared to 28% who chose the alternative of “a hero to cancer patients”. 67% of respondents have a less favorable view of Armstrong today, compared to a year ago.
Armstrong’s fall from grace is staggering: 69% of respondents cited Armstrong as having suffered the furthest fall from grace of any recent tarnished athlete:
|Most Significant Fall From Grace|
Certain segments of the population are more likely to remain supportive of Armstrong. People who acknowledged wearing a LIVESTRONG bracelet in the past maintain a more positive view than people who have not worn one, 33%-12%. Similarly, 28% of respondents age 18-34 see maintain a positive view of Armstrong, compared to only 12% of respondents 35 and up. And ethnic minorities maintain a less negative view of Armstrong than Caucasian respondents; 58% of Caucasians report a negative view of Armstrong, compared to 40% of minorities. “While it’s not surprising that people who supported LIVESTRONG continue to have regard for Lance Armstrong, the majority of respondents cannot look past his lack of integrity and compliance with the rules,” added Seiferheld.
Respondents to the survey felt that the LIVESTRONG brand, the sport of cycling itself, and the Tour de France have all been “at least somewhat damaged”. However, Armstrong’s sponsors should not expect to suffer any significant ramifications. The percentage of respondents saying each of the following brands have been “at least somewhat damaged” are 31% for Trek, 28% for Nike, 20% for the United States Postal Service, and 18% for Discovery Channel.
36% of survey respondents watched the first night of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong on Thursday January 17th. Reaction to the interview was diverse; 43% of respondents found Armstrong “emotionless”. 39% found Armstrong “apologetic”, but only 28% found him “remorseful”. And while 37% of people found Armstrong “honest”, another 32% found him “insincere”. Watching the interview did not provide Armstrong a meaningful boost to his image; 22% of viewers maintain a positive view of Armstrong, compared to 15% of non-viewers.
“The Oprah interview didn’t work – he didn’t make the sale,” Seiferheld commented.
The study was conducted on Friday January 18th, 2013. A total of n=593 respondents completed the survey online; respondents were sourced from CINT.com. The sample is representative of the U.S. population, with a focus on fans identifying themselves as at least mildly interested in professional sports.