The Armstrong lie

I confess that I was one who wanted to believe in Lance Armstrong.
Here was a guy who nearly died
in 1996 of testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. But he came back to win the Tour de France, arguably the world’s toughest sporting event, seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005.

Lane Armstrong

Lane Armstrong

It was a compelling story.
It captured not only the cycling world but millions of people around the world who didn’t care a whit about professional bicycling. They were just rooting for a guy who beat the Big C and rose to the pinnacle of his sport.
We all know now that it turned out to be an audacious con. Armstrong proved to be a doper and a liar.
“He had lied to me, straight to my face, all throughout 2009,” says Alex Gibney, maker of a new film called, appropriately, The Armstrong Lie.
“The gift that he has is his gift as a story teller,” Gibney says of Armstrong in a trailer for the documentary.

Added one observer quoted in the documentary: “Such a huge number of people wanted to believe that they hated anyone who didn’t believe.”
I didn’t hate those who didn’t believe. But I accepted without sufficient skepticism Armstrong’s lies. And, as an editorial board member of a large newspaper, I wrote several glowing editorials about his seemingly inexorable march to seven Tour de France victories. I now feel that I was betrayed.
Gibney’s film opens Nov. 8 in limited release in New York and Los Angeles.
I can’t wait to see it.
I’m still pissed off.



Filed under Americana, History, Texana

8 responses to “The Armstrong lie

  1. Melot Philippe

    thank you for your great blog! I read it avidly and share with all my cycling buddies !
    Being French I was among the very few here who rooted for Armstrong until the end, against a mainstream opinion that he was a liar… they proved to be right and I am all the more angry, disappointed, bitter….
    But my point is that the guy just cynically used a system, and if he needs to be punished, he is not the only one. Everybody in the big Tour de France circus and professionnal cycling has a financial interest in respecting the mafia rule of silence about doping: UCI and its officers, cycling federations, doctors, the press, sponsors, cities and towns, you name it…. this is all a huge hypocrisy, and as usual the key driver is money and greed.

  2. “Because of Lance, there is today more focus on the individuals whom this disease (cancer) strikes, and on healing the person, not just killing the disease,” Garvey said (Armstong’s replacement as board chairman for LIVESTRONG.)
    Lance Armstrong Cuts Ties To Livestrong
    By JIM VERTUNO 11/12/12 12:46 PM ET EST AP
    This is still my conundrum with Armstrong. My 18 year old son who races bicycles and admired Armstrong got blood cancer when he was 16. Livestrong was a great help for us as a source of information and in dealing with a less than sympathetic school system. I hate that we were lied to, and that a huge amounts of money was made off this deception. Lance himself donated over 7 million of this money he made from the sham. Good from ill gotten gain? Morally I cannot justify it with my conscience. The emotional confusion he has caused as he was an inspiration for my son to kick cancer and become a cat 1 racer– immense. My son and I, with you, are still pissed off.
    Thanks for the great blog, my son found it while he was going through chemo and shared it with me as I and my wife are cycling tourists.

  3. Dee gulledge

    Can’t wait to see this documentary! Thanks for sharing jim! Hope to visit ft worth in December!

  4. Jeffery Sailer

    Great Blog. I do not dislike Lance what he did was a remarkable. Although in the end it is all self inflicted. My point is none of us can even come close to understand what is like to be at that level of competition at any sport. Most super athletes have huge ego’s that is what drives them. All of the sports are always coming up with a new performance drug. We are just in the middle of that age. Who knows what it will look like in 20 years.
    I do believe history will treat Lance with kindness.

  5. Jim,

    I returned to regular cycling in 2001. Ignorant of professional cycling, I slowly became aware of Armstrong. I took heart in his feats, and actually checked the various web-sites during the Tour days to see how he was doing. In that same period, my own cycling proficiency grew.

    Over time, Lance won Tour after Tour. I had developed higher blood pressure and needed to redefine my life. I adopted a rigorous training regime, and gained a small appreciation for the suffering world class athletes go through to compete.

    The rumors and charges about Lance flew. I wanted to believe Lance, and I did. I agreed with Lance’s finely tuned machine that the charges were spawned by jealousy and intense rivalry. For myself, I eschewed any thought of PEDs, not that I had any idea where to get them. I had come to know and understand my body. And I was proud that I did whatever I did, on my own.

    When Floyd Landis was caught, in 2006, I stopped following the Tour. Then, Contador was caught, and so was Vinokouurov and so many others. Somewhere along the way, I knew Lance was guilty of at least some of what “they” said he had done. In my heart, I knew he was a cheat and a fraud, no different that the cyclists of his time. When the final revelations came out, I wasn’t surprised, or even particularly hurt.

    Now, I am a touring cyclist. My conscience is clear. What I do, I do because I am able to do it. What I cannot do, I cannot do. And I know I have not cheated.

    Will I go see the film? No. I have moved on.

    (You have a nice blog. That you are a journalist, explains much.)

    Happy trails,


  6. I’m right there with you. I feel like I was duped. However, as a survivor of blood cancer I admire what he was able to do to raise awareness and to give people hope.

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