“I decided to tell all my truth“. Lance Armstrong, perhaps the greatest swindler in the history of cycling, did it in a long documentary by three and a quarter hours broken into two episodes, the first aired on ESPN in the US last night and the second aired next Monday. It will arrive in Europe in late June.
“Lance”, this is the title of the documentary film made by Marina Zenovich, is the story of a champion (or presumed one) ready to do anything to excel. Ready to doping like a horse with the sole purpose of winning, always and in any case. “Lance” is the anti “The Last Dance”, on one side there is him, on the other Michael Jordan. A divinity of basketball on one side, a braggart with no possibility of redemption on the other. The documentary tells of the athlete’s rise to the top as a “star of cycling and the fight against cancer” and then his rapid decline as a serial liar and a full-blown fraudster. Lance is not a biography but a journey into the sick soul of a man who has completely lost touch with reality (“I found myself lying looking people in the eye so much I used to do it. I will have built a castle of thousands of lies“).
Doping at 21 and cancer
The first encounter between Armstrong and doping takes place early, just 21 years old. Lance relies ongrowth hormone to win the world championship in 1993 ( “They all overtook me, I got tired of being left behind, of going out defeated. I wanted to start winning and never stop. It became an obsession“). Shooting hormones in the body on a devastating choice for his body: the devastating testicular and brain cancer that Lance managed to overcome. From returning to racing, Armstrong never stopped. He tried every kind of doping substance “with the embarrassment of not even having to defend myself since for everyone I was the hero who had defeated a tumor and therefore above all suspicions“. In 1998 he met EPO and it was a fatal attraction: “Everyone used it, it was a drug that made you go very fast without health risks, unlike the hormones that made you grow good and bad things, such as cancer“.
The return to racing and the sense of omnipotence
Armstrong quit cycling after winning seven Tour de France. He enjoyed life, money and success for three years (“I wasted my time with starlets for which I left my wife and family“), Then decided to return in 2008. He was bored and was watching the Tour de France on TV:”I was perfectly well physically and I saw Sastre’s victory. If someone like that could win the Tour, I could have done it serenely for the eighth time. Few supported my decision“.
From Basso to Pantani, attacks on Italian cyclists
There is also room for Italians in this documentary. They are not sweet words, far from it. The approach to the Epo of the various blue champions, to begin with. In the documentary there are several unpublished videos and photos that portray Armstrong on the Lake Como, dream location that accompanied the life of the American cyclist for two years. There is also a clip that portrays Lance speaking a correct Italian during an interview on Swiss TV. But let’s go back to the broadside: “Italy glorifies Ivan Basso, holds him in high esteem, offers him a job and invites him on TV. Yet he is not very different from me or Jan Ullrich. Italy demolished and killed Pantani, Germany despises Ullrich but loves Zabel who was also doped. And Pantani is dead, fucking dead“When it comes to Italy there cannot be a great chapter dedicated also to the relationship with the doctor Michele Ferrari: “I did everything he said, I had blind faith in him. All I needed was red blood cells“.
Armstrong’s tears at the sight of Ullrich
Armstrong is also seen crying in the documentary. He does this by recalling a very dramatic episode in his life after his retirement. “I went to visit Jan Ullrich in Germany, in the facility where he is disintossicava and it wasn’t a good trip at all. They set him up, Jan, just like me. I love him, he was the most important person in my life. It is the opponent that I respected most of all, indeed the only one. Our stories are very similar, starting with our difficult childhood. Jan had everything I had, a wife, children, a lot of money but it didn’t help keep everything together. All because of this motherfuckin sport“.
Armstrong’s son: “I didn’t hide”
Then there is the family, destroyed by Lance’s fame. Starting with the son Luke David that appears in the documentary with a creepy confession: “I always thought that my father had nothing to do with doping, the night he confessed everything from Oprah I was 12 years old. The next day my mother suggested that I not go to school, to take a few days off. I didn’t pay attention to her: I wanted to look everyone in the face ”. The sentence added by the father is also impressive: “Luke now goes to college and is an American football talent. If you wanted to talk to me about doping? I would tell him that doping so young and at this point in his career is not convenient. What if he tells me he is already doping? Well, I don’t know what to answer him“.
The three things Armstrong regrets
Of three things Lance he is not proud. “I ruined the life of my masseuse Emma O’Reilly by threatening her and publicly giving her a prostitute for exposing me. He had only told the truth“. The second one: “I ruined my career and life a Filippo Simeoni, the racer who denounced my connection with Dr. Ferrari. I could have put him in a corner and threatened him, I did it like a mafia boss during the live broadcast of the Tour“. The third: “I was obscene when I planted my wife Kristine and the kids to flirt with the starlet on duty. Two days after leaving home I was already on the covers with a glass in my hand“.
Treated like an animal by the stepfather
Finally Armstrong also remembers his childhood, marked by the absence of a father and the violence of a stepfather, which hit him “for a drawer left open“.”Without me Lance would not have become a champion, because I treated him like an animal“, the opinion of Terry Armstrong, with the regret of having made it “a winner at all costs“.