Documentary on Lance Armstrong

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by wco81, May 23, 2020.

  1. wco81

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    On the heels of boffo ratings for The Last Dance, ESPN is going to air a 2-part look at Armstrong, starting this Sunday at 9 PM EST.

    They've teased some clips, with him talking about why he took EPO.

    He seems to have dropped off the public consciousness after he finally admitted to doping a couple of years ago.

    Someone referenced how the Live Strong following was a huge deal. Apparently had diehard fans who kept shouting down anyone who dared suggest Lance was doping. Of course it wasn't just the fans, it was Armstrong and his inner circle, who were very aggressive about defending him.

    Turned out to be all gaslighting.


    I was never a huge fan of cycling. I would watch some bits of Tour de France when it was on TV, though I would never actively look for it.

    But Armstrong was a polarizing figure. He came off as arrogant and dishonest to me for some reason, long before he was caught.

    Some Americans were touting him winning one of the biggest competitions in Europe, for nationalistic reasons. Jingoism wasn't pretty.
     
  2. hoom

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    Did he actually completely admit it?
    My recollection is the wording he used in the 'he admitted it' interview was carefully vague & could be interpreted as not admitting it.
     
  3. wco81

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    I think when he did, it might have been a lawyer saying so.

    Presumably in this documentary there will be interviews where he talks about it.

    Otherwise it won't be much of a documentary on the subject.
     
  4. Davros

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    #4 Davros, May 24, 2020
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  5. wco81

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    Part 1 - intercuts present day, mostly interviews, with a narrative of his entire career, starting in high school, where he first made his mark as a swimmer, which led to triathlons and eventually cycling.

    A couple of the early interviewees kind of warns the filmmaker that Lance is going to try to "shape" the documentary to his purposes.

    Armstrong wins the world tour of cycling fairly early in his career, at age 21-22, in only his first or second year. But then finds himself falling behind the very next year as doping becomes prevalent.

    The way he depicts the decision to dope, there wasn't very much agonizing, if he wanted to keep competing, he had no other choice.

    Says he took EPO only for the '96 season and then came his testicular cancer diagnosis. Surgeries, including to remove cancer which had metastasized to his brain and chemotherapy put him out for a year. His first season back, barely got a sponsorship and didn't have any ambitions about the Tour de France.

    Then in '98, the doping scandal in the Tour de France.

    The '99 Tour was to be a new beginning for the Tour and for him on his comeback story.

    After the scandal of the '98 Tour, they changed the race, so that racers wouldn't be motivated to cheat. It was suppose to result in a slower race. Instead, it was the fastest Tour in history, won by Armstrong. His own agent suggested he take it easy on the final time trial with the yellow jersey because he was going to win it either way. Instead he went for it, resulting in the record time.

    As one journalist says, it's the most grueling event in the world and a racer who takes off a year for surgery and chemotherapy sets the world record? But everyone involved in the sport, including those who covered it, played up this story about beating cancer and beating the Tour. It made the sport explode, that is brought in a lot of money, so the UCI governing body heads looked the other way. After '98, they could not have another scandal again the very next year.

    So in the history segment, they build up this image of this hyper competitive individual, who was cocky even as a kid. But it may be far more simpler than that. In his early 20s, he had a house to himself on Lake Como, a place where millionaires and billionaires have villas. Meanwhile his 4 teammates crammed into a 3-bedroom apt. They trained in Italy and then did all the competitions throughout Europe. By age 24, he was designing a custom home, spending almost a million dollars for a lakefront pad.

    In other words, the sports was lucrative to him since high school -- he traveled outside the country most of the year starting at age 17. He made great money even before he won his first Tour, before Americans knew about the Tour. But when he won it in '99 and kept winning them, he says he was at a superstar level, like Michael Phelps or Lebron James.

    He wasn't walking away from that in his late 20s or 30s. He says that most of the riders weren't scared to take EPO, alludes to taking the right amount and that it wasn't detectable. So pretty easy decision.
     
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  6. hoom

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    Imagine the reaction that'd have happened if he'd been Russian...
     
  7. Pete

    Pete Moderate Nuisance
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    I can see the appeal of the Jordan documentary. Basketball probably has its own issues with PEDs, but the Jordan legacy is winning and an almost unparalleled competitive fire. The Armstrong legacy (and the Tour de France as a whole basically ever since) is doping. Why would I want to relive that? I can’t wait for ARod’s turn, but the dude already got his $100M++ (from a sport that couldn’t even fire him when he was caught), married JLo, and I think is a baseball analyst for Fox or some network. Remember, kids, cheaters never prosper!

    Appreciate the summary, wco81.
     
  8. wco81

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    Part 2 - Delves into the coverup, including the years after his last Tour win in 2006. In fact most people would know about the Tour wins, followed by the admission of guilt but these last two hours give you a good outline or chronology until almost the present day, if you didn't closely follow the sport or his career.

    The filmmaker who interviews Lance seems to have established a good rapport. At one point, she says "don't deflect" in a playful way. If she was tougher with him, he might have put up walls because there's probably still a lot of venom or what one of his former friends call "evil."

    Lance says he's biggest regret was the way he treated Emma O'Reilly, who was the therapist or trainer on his team. She at one point talked about him disposing of needles. As he has done consistently, anyone who criticized but especially dropped the dime on him came in for vicious attacks, including in this case "whore."

    So maybe watching this, you think he's matured or gotten past the anger, realizes he was wrong the way he treated people and has genuine sorrow.

    But then he says he will never forgive Floyd Landis, who won 2007 Tour de France (the very next one after Lance's last win) but was stripped of the title when he was caught with testosterone. Landis was suspended but around 2009, he was trying to come back, just as Lance was trying to come back after a 3-year retirement of partying with celebrities -- he dumped his first wife for Cheryl Crow.

    Nobody in the cycling world wanted to hire him yet they were angry, especially Lance, when Landis broke the omertà. Then it led to the 2010 US federal investigation, where the other cyclists confessed but Lance still denied. At the last moment, the case against Armstrong was dropped. He had a lot of politician friends so there's suspicion that friends in high places made that happen.

    But the investigation didn't stop and with the USADA involved, the UCI banned him from cycling and stripped him of his Tour titles. Then all the big sponsors -- Nike, Oakley, Annheiser-Busch, etc. -- dropped him. Probably denied him $100 million of "income."

    Then lawsuits came and he had to make multimillion dollar settlements. Other than a big 2013 interview with Oprah where he admits he doped, he's been out of the limelight.

    Now here is where the old Lance revealed himself in the film, when he talks about people like Ulrich and an Italian cyclists who were both repudiated by their countries and fans and had very unhappy endings. Lance said it's "fucking bullshit" that these cyclists were disgraced and discarded by their countries and fans.

    He also says it's "fucking bullshit" that he's been disgraced and discarded by America.

    One of his cycling buddies said he went to have drinks with Lance not too long after all the revelations came out and Lance spewed a lot of venom about his plight.

    One reason why he may be bitter is that if he really believed he lost $100 million by getting caught and losing all his sponsorships. He probably still has millions though, seems to live well in beautiful Aspen, CO, seems to be able to provide for all his kids.

    Of course he lost 7 titles in the most prestigious event in his sport, though even before he was caught, the Tour had had several scandals, so it wasn't exactly a pristine legacy. With his combative, aggressive and hyper-competitive personality, winning probably means everything to him.

    But if he had to choose between keeping his titles vs. keeping his money?
     
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  9. hoom

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    "suspicion" :nope:
     
  10. AlphaWolf

    AlphaWolf Specious Misanthrope
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    He may have lost $100 million or even more but he still has many millions because he invested a pile of money in Uber in 2008.
     
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