Is Twitter powerful? “You bet it is,” says UofL Sports Administration assistant professor Marion Hambrick, who collaborated with Clemson  professor Jimmy Sanderson on the project.

The seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong used social media, specifically Twitter, to wage a public relations war, denying allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs en route to international fortune and fame.

“Every time something would come out, he would fire back his side of the story on Twitter and make news, showing that you don’t need the traditional media to get your message out,” Hambrick said. “But he completely abandoned social media once he confessed, leaving his supporters behind without an apology and offering no accountability for lying.”

“This was a great opportunity to investigate how social media factors into image repair, and how fans now have a voice to tell athletes exactly what they think,” Sanderson said. “Working with Dr. Hambrick was a great experience because we complement each other really well – seeing things the other doesn’t – and I look forward to more opportunities now that UofL has joined the ACC.”

Hambrick and Sanderson also are exploring how universities should incorporate social media into their crisis communications plans.