Gibney boils it down to Armstrong’s hard-nosed approach to winning at all costs combined with the incredible power of celebrity. Power, and how to hold on to it, is a huge theme in The Armstrong Lie. Speculations around Armstrong’s legitimacy have been circulating since his first win in 1999, but has always managed to squeeze himself out of nasty situations. The Livestrong Foundation, all his sponsorship deals, and his goodie two-shoes image served as impenetrable walls when it came to allegations. His name provided the image that the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) had been dreaming of, and his non-profit organization gave a sense of hope for millions around the world. Everything was coming up Lance, and it wasn’t going to change.
Through a series of interviews with former teammates, doctors, members of the press, and Lance himself, Gibney paints an unflattering picture of Mr. Armstrong. His relationships with former teammates turned sour, the writers interviewed (those who were skeptical early on) had a sort of I-told-you-so attitude that showed bitterness, and even Lance (post-Oprah interview) apologized to Gibney for “ruining his documentary”. It seems as if it all snowballed out of control before Armstrong had any chance to grasp the grave he was digging for himself. He was just too focused on being the best and leaving the rest behind.
The Armstrong Lie exposes the undoing of one of the 21st century’s most prominent figures in sport. Arguably, the biggest doping scandal in sport’s history. Lance Armstrong has been banned for life and stripped of all his titles, but does that mean he didn’t win them? No. Did he cheat? Yes. But, so was everybody else. Seven championships is still an impressive feat, even among a bunch of juiced up bikers. The bottom line is, though, he still cheated. He lived a lie for his entire career and, now, has to suffer the consequences. He will be remembered as a fraud and a cheat for as long as cycling is still a sport and those seven Tour de France wins will remain forever blank. If you have any interest in sport, celebrity, all the power in the world, and its subsequent downfall, I highly recommend giving this documentary a watch.
The Armstrong Lie opens on Friday, November 29th in Vancouver.