The Armstrong lie on channel 4

by notfastenough   July 7, 2014  

10pm on Monday. Get it on c4+1 or on catchup.

17 user comments

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It was fascinating.

I never liked Lance... I was pretty much cheering whoever was his closest rival each year, and when the whole can of worms flew open last year (or the one before?) I felt vindicated!

But... attempting to apply a little perspective (and not questioning for an instant that he doesn't appear to be a terribly nice person, trampling all over anyone who gets in his way), yes he cheated, but so did everyone else. He was perhaps better than the rest, but was the playing field all that far from level?

He was undoubtedly a brilliant rider, and who knows, perhaps in a clean sport he'd have been unbeatable in the tour for those 7 years? I feel I have to grudgingly accept that his crimes are probably not much different to many others. His success and personality added authority and he used that position to crush people, but on a pure sporting front, was he any worse than the competition?

Meh, I'm new here and you've probably talked it all to death... Yawn

posted by PurpleDog [37 posts]
10th July 2014 - 21:21

114 Likes

It's fun though, having villians adds drama and he was undoubtably a nasty bastard.

posted by drfabulous0 [403 posts]
10th July 2014 - 21:48

116 Likes

If you ignore the doping, Lance stood out for slandering people (e.g. that Emma O'Reilly had been prostituting herself, that Greg Lemond had alcohol issues); false lawsuits (which cost people money to defend, and even lose lots of money in judgement, e.g. The Times and SCA Promotions); he even used his status to get people drummed out of their livelihoods (Greg Lemond lost his Trek deal; Bassons and one other lost their jobs in the peloton).

Lance went way beyond doping.

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
10th July 2014 - 22:32

116 Likes

I missed the whole Lance era because I fell out of love with cycling after some a**hole stole my bike in the mid 90s and I was too poor at the time to get another. I didn't get back in to cycling until 2009 and didn't really have much of an opinion on Lance before watching this documentary.

After watching it, I liked Lance a lot more than I did - mostly for the part where, after his battle with cancer, he decides "f**k it, I'm going to try and win the Tour de France" - and then sets about doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. I admire both the single-mindedness and the realisation that he'd have to exploit every possible advantage - including doping.

It's harder to justify the bullying though and I do feel for the people he trashed along the way. But, to some degree, I wonder what people were expecting him to do when confronted with allegations that he doped? Did people seriously expect him to say, "shucks, you pesky journalists have figured it out! - it's a fair cop - you got me!". With so much at stake, it was inevitable that he'd cross a line that most folks wouldn't in a bid to defend himself, his team, his foundation etc. And at the end of the day, what have all the revelations achieved other than selling more books and generating newspaper headlines? The tests for EPO and the biological passports came in before he was rumbled - so it's not like it lead directly to those developments (unless you count his donation to the UCI for the testing machine - I'm joking of course).

In life, most of us (the 99%) are taught from an early age that we must be honest, respect the rules and laws of the land etc. It's a form of programming that attempts to keep us all in line. But we all lie, cheat, bend or break the rules in small ways every single day and we tell ourselves stories to justify what we're doing. Those people and organisations that make it big - the politicians, entertainers, athletes, companies etc. are all lying, cheating, bending or breaking the rules or exploiting some other advantage other people don't have. We get offended if what they're doing doesn't conform to the rules the rest of us have - but that's how they get to be where they are. The only real difference between them and us are the stories we tell ourselves. Morals are really nothing more than socially acceptable rules.

posted by LinusLarrabee [69 posts]
11th July 2014 - 2:47

113 Likes

It made for a depressing but totally engrossing watch. Lance has clearly not totally accepted the whole truth, he'll not be able to begin true reconciliation until he does. I feel for his family and friends who trusted him, they are the ones who will suffer the most because of him.

posted by Beaufort [184 posts]
11th July 2014 - 5:34

107 Likes

Paul J wrote:
If you ignore the doping, Lance stood out for slandering people (e.g. that Emma O'Reilly had been prostituting herself, that Greg Lemond had alcohol issues)....

There was a really good interview with Emma O'Reilly on Radio 4 last week, as she said it wasn't just black/white, good/bad, there's a whole palette of greys in there. And for what it's worth, she and Armstrong are actually quite good friends again now. LA wrote the foreword in her new book, can't wait to read that.

And for another good take on the whole story, read "Wheelmen"
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wheelmen-Reed-Albergotti/dp/1472212398

That's an amazing insight into it all.

posted by crazy-legs [550 posts]
11th July 2014 - 8:18

107 Likes

His fight back from cancer was incredible and yes, the majority of the peloton was probably doping back in the day, but his bullying was unacceptable and I still don't believe he's yet accepted the damage he caused to the lives of others with his lies. He got what he deserved. He could've taken the UCI's offer and turned it down and it has cost him, well that's his own fault.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
11th July 2014 - 8:37

103 Likes

What has always bugged me about Lance Armstrong wasn't his doping (or lying about it), but the way he treated people to protect that lie. He didn't need to destroy other peoples lives...that was a line he shouldn't and needn't have crossed. I found his explanation that he viewed winning or losing as a battle with death explained (but did not justify) his actions perfectly.

posted by McVittees [20 posts]
11th July 2014 - 8:41

107 Likes

OldRidgeBack: Fight back from what was likely a self-inflicted cancer. If not self-inflicted, his testosterone abuse certainly was a major factor in why he had such an aggressive form of it.

(Lance isn't the only male pro/semi-pro cyclist to have testicular cancer at an unusually young age of course).

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
11th July 2014 - 9:49

102 Likes

Paul J wrote:
OldRidgeBack: Fight back from what was likely a self-inflicted cancer. If not self-inflicted, his testosterone abuse certainly was a major factor in why he had such an aggressive form of it.
.

and your evidence is?.. I would refrain from making statements like that unless there is incontrovertible proof -otherwise where does it end?

Yes lifestyle factors may have an impact on cancer, but do you go around accusing breast cancer victims of causing their own disease by, for example, drinking too much?

And is the logical conclusion of your argument that he deserved it because it was his 'fault'? Lance is am unpleasant character based on his treatment of others and was rightly banned from sport but nobody deserves that disease.

Oh and by the way, testicular cancer is more prevalent among younger men than older, and in young people cancer is often more aggressive anyway due to speed of cell growth

posted by 700c [587 posts]
11th July 2014 - 10:08

108 Likes

I very much enjoyed the film and, to my surprise, came out understanding (if that's the right word) Armstrong a lot more than I expected. He was undoubtedly a product of his tough upbringing and the battle with cancer that he experienced.

He was unfortunate to have been competing in an age in which doping had been endemic for decades __ he just took the doping to new levels and was incredibly successful. That success enabled him to build an empire with which to perpetuate the lies.

The tragedy to me is that we'll never know who should have won those 7 TdF's and the blame for that cannot be laid on Armstrong alone. Surely the self-serving ineptitude of the UCI bosses was the principal architect of the doping culture.

Armstrong's raised over $325M for charity too.

As they say, never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.

posted by Joeinpoole [303 posts]
11th July 2014 - 10:33

107 Likes

You're putting words into my mouth saying that my comment leads to the conclusion he deserved it. I didn't say that, nor do I think it logically follows from my comment.

Looking into the cancer risk aspect, it certainly used to be the view that testosterone increased aggressiveness of cancer. However, it seems more recently that there's been a rethink on this view. I can't find papers back specifically on testosterone abuse and testicular cancer, but this is an opinion piece on androgen therapy and prostate cancer:

http://www.cancernetwork.com/oncology-journal/new-concepts-regarding-tes...

So, what I wrote in my comment above may be unfounded.

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
11th July 2014 - 10:58

103 Likes

700c wrote:
Paul J wrote:
OldRidgeBack: Fight back from what was likely a self-inflicted cancer. If not self-inflicted, his testosterone abuse certainly was a major factor in why he had such an aggressive form of it.
.

and your evidence is?.. I would refrain from making statements like that unless there is incontrovertible proof -otherwise where does it end?

Yes lifestyle factors may have an impact on cancer, but do you go around accusing breast cancer victims of causing their own disease by, for example, drinking too much?

And is the logical conclusion of your argument that he deserved it because it was his 'fault'? Lance is am unpleasant character based on his treatment of others and was rightly banned from sport but nobody deserves that disease.

Oh and by the way, testicular cancer is more prevalent among younger men than older, and in young people cancer is often more aggressive anyway due to speed of cell growth

+1

I don't like Lance Armstrong, an opinion based on the way he lied and bullied others. He got what he deserved in having those TdF titles taken away from him. That said, he didn't 'deserve' cancer.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
11th July 2014 - 13:25

106 Likes

I am watching the storyville version on iplayer which is equally fascinating.
I first started watching pro cycling in the era of Indurain and when LA came along I wanted to believe the "phoenix from the ashes story" and overlooked the obvious signs (eg destroying competition on the climbs without even gasping for air).
I read his book and yes his tough childhood and conflict with substitute father figures shaped him. It excuses nothing but might serve to explain. He is undoubtedly a man with many flaws and I hope he makes peace with all those he destroyed on the way up.
I hope there is some redemption for him as for anyone who has done wrong. His fund raising and his services to cancer will no doubt have inspired and saved lives and if he can find peace with those he hurt, I hope his legacy can be balanced.
Doping was endemic and let's remember his jerseys have not been re awarded to others (bar one).
A very sad era in the sport but we can not rewrite history. Iam no apologist or fan but I do think the context of the era and his live strong activities need to be borne in mind.

posted by arfa [535 posts]
11th July 2014 - 16:15

100 Likes

He will get a job within the UCI as an advisor, and wait until his inevitable book comes out, he will recoup millions. I actually dislike landis far more, a pathetic little man who didn't get his way. As I have said before on here I respect LA, undeniably he was an awesome athlete, PEDs or not you have to TRAIN EAT SLEEP repeat.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

― George Carlin

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”

― Euripides, Bacchae

Cyclist's picture

posted by Cyclist [212 posts]
11th July 2014 - 20:43

98 Likes

I watched both documentaries, and my overwhelming feeling was sadness. Not for him, or the others who collided with his world, but for my 2 boys, who from 1999 idolised Lance Armstrong, 4 family holidays ensued between then and 2005, to follow the parts of tour because of him, they rode trek bikes and had pictures on their walls. They feel he has stolen part of their childhood, part of their cherished memories, even though around these holidays there were visits to Euro Disney, Paris, Reims, Carcasonne, Nice, Marseille, Lourdes, there memories are tainted, and that makes me sad.
I expect there are millions of others who feel likewise.
I also feel for Frankie and Betsy that they did not get closure.

posted by thefatcyclist [584 posts]
12th July 2014 - 10:08

94 Likes

[oops, this comment was meant for another story]

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
13th July 2014 - 7:32

91 Likes