The Armstrong Lie. It’s not about the bike, it’s about the power
Last weekend I finally watched the much talked about documentary on Lance Armstrong. The disgraced sportsman, the best ‘human-drug-machine’ hybrid ever conceived, the biggest most awaited desillusion in the history of sports.
I knew, almost everyone knew, that Lance Armstrong was doing drugs. It was just impossible to catch him. For around 10 years (starting 1999) he took EPO and the rest of the enhancing performance cocktail without being caught. It was only in 2012 that he finally admitted the deed, when not only anti-doping agencies, but US cops with real badges, started to chase him down.
The movie ‘The Armstrong Lie‘ (2013), directed by Alex Gibney, took 4 years to be completed. The initial intention was to account the ‘historical’ return of Armstrong in the Tour de France in 2009 (after a four-year retirement from the sport). Lance’s quest was to prove others he’s still ‘le patron de la Grande Boucle’. In many respects it was also his quest to defeat once and for all the ones still accusing him of doping. To even bully them if that was the case. He didn’t win in 2009, only got the 3rd place in the end, but the movie promised to be nevertheless a romantic narrative of a true American hero.
What would have been Gibney’s exploit if Lance didn’t finally confess to Oprah, in prime time? A failure, right? A story of a cheat that’s never been caught. By having the chance to get even with Lance (Armstrong grants him an interview after the Oprah moment), Gibney saves the set. The disgraced rider finally apologizes for lying all this time, he proved he has some kind of a conscience.
Was I avanged for the cheating Armstrong did during a decade or so? Only in part. He’s not ready to admit all the lying and that is sad, but it is part of his nature, I guess.
Lance’s book in 2000, ‘It’s not about the bike‘ is only half right with its title. It’s not about the bike, indeed, it’s not about the ‘perfect’ body recovered from cancer either. It’s about the power to buy almost everyone around. So that you can lie for as long as possible.
Lance was indeed the product of his era, when doping was a cancer in cycling. He’s more than that though: he’s the product of a marketing machine selling the dream. Selling by no means the dream of a yellow American on Champs-Élysées.