Liestrong: ‘The Armstrong Lie’ doc details sports’ greatest fraud
Published: December 4, 2013
“For as long as the Tour [de France] has existed, since 1903, its participants have been doping themselves,” wrote German journalist Hans Halter in 1998, one year before Armstrong won his first Tour. “No dope, no hope. The Tour [de France], in fact, is only possible because—not despite the fact—there is doping. For 60 years this was allowed. For the past 30 years it has been officially prohibited. Yet the fact remains; great cyclists have been doping themselves, then as now.”
Lance Armstrong made a lot of money for a lot of people, including himself. When the scandal was too big to control, he was stripped of his titles, chewed up and spit out by the very same organizations that knew all along doping was part of the deal and Armstrong wasn’t the only one cheating. Of all the competitors who made the Tour de France podium in 1999-2005 (the years Armstrong won), only Spaniard Fernando Escartín was clean, and Gibney’s film gives a strong indication that all top contenders were involved in the deception.
Does this excuse Armstrong’s behavior? Of course not. He was a dickhead (a word he loved to use against his critics during denial-mode) who, yes, truly cared about the cancer patients he inspired, but who ultimately only cared about winning, on and off the bike.
Lance Armstrong was also a world champion in his 20s, and lost it all to cancer. He came back and won his titles back and much more, only to lose everything again. Not only did he lie, he kept on lying after getting caught. But the fact that the International Cycling Union never gave Armstrong’s yellow jersey to the runner-up—or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth—should tell you something.
Armstrong wasn’t the only liar in this story; he was just the best at it, especially among those competitors who were doing the same things he did.
The Armstrong Lie
Writ. and dir. Alex Gibney; feat. Lance Armstrong, Reed Albergotti, Frankie Andreu, Betsy Andreu, Michele Ferrari (R)
Opens December 6 at Santikos Bijou
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