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Sport Lance Armstrong documentary highlights former Tour de France winner's contradictions

05:32  03 june  2020
05:32  03 june  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Lance Armstrong in a blue shirt: Lance Armstrong's contradictions make his story so compelling. (Supplied: ESPN) © Provided by ABC Grandstand Lance Armstrong's contradictions make his story so compelling. (Supplied: ESPN) "This is going to sound terrible, but I am relevant. I am."

The words of Lance Armstrong, subject of the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, who in both his mind and ours, remains one of sports most compelling characters.

To paraphrase three-time American Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, The Lance Armstrong story is sport's greatest comeback-turned greatest fraud.

That's why, nearly 20 years after his era-defining run of Tour de France victories, the American is still given the documentary treatment.

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Lance Edward Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson[4] on September 18, 1971) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. Armstrong is the 1993 professional world champion, and won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.

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Seven years after Armstrong's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he finally admitted to doping his way to seven Tour de France titles, , we're offered another no-holds-barred documentary.

"I'm going to tell you my truth," Armstrong tells film maker Marina Zenovich in the early stages of part one.

"And my truth is not my version, my truth is how I remember it."

Did we learn anything new? And if we did, can we take Armstrong's word for it anyway?

Was Armstrong a product of his environment?

Armstrong's will to win is clearly evidenced in footage and reports from earlier in his career, right from when he jettisoned his coach as a prodigiously talented teenage triathlete.

That drive was perhaps enabled by his mother, or even his step-father who admits to being "hard" on Armstrong as a child, although Armstrong remembers that as him "beating the shit" out of him.

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Home Grand Tours Lance Armstrong ’ s Tour de France victories should stand, say former champions. According to a survey done by Dutch newspaper Telesport two years ago, a majority of the former Tour de France winners believe that Lance Armstrong ’ s seven Tour wins should not

Lance Armstrong , capturing a stage of the Tour de France in 2004.Credit Patrick Kovarik/Agence France -Presse — Getty Images. By early Tuesday, his biography on his Twitter page had been changed to no longer say he is the seven-time Tour de France winner .

There is an argument, covered extensively in the first episode, that Armstrong resorting to nefarious means to achieve his goals was as much a product of the rolling pharmacy that made up the mid-90s professional peloton as his personality.

Armstrong's defence for using drugs has always been that everyone else was too.

However flawed that argument is, Armstrong clearly feels he has been unfairly scapegoated by the media, along with former rival Jan Ullrich.

The one moment in the film where Armstrong appears to show genuine emotion is when speaking about Ullrich, who spent time in a psychiatric hospital after struggling with substance abuse, having admitted to doping throughout his career.

Armstrong said he visited Ullrich, adding that it was "not a good trip" describing him as a "f***ing mess".

"Jan was in that era, that cesspool that we were all in, and he got caught, like we all got caught," Armstrong said.

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Lance Armstrong , the most decorated, celebrated and controversial rider in cycling history, has This year Andy Schleck was awarded the 2010 Tour de France winner ' s jersey, amid Usada is expected to press ahead with proceedings against several of Armstrong 's former colleagues and associates

the Tour de France circuit as Geoff Thomas persuades disgraced former winner to ride stages Lance Armstrong (left) will join Geoff Thomas' s Cure Leukaemia charity ride of the Tour de France Lance back in France ? Even Armstrong , who has been stripped of his seven Tour titles, had his

"When I look at Jan's situation and I look at my situation … they're very similar."

Armstrong then rails against the supposed hypocrisy in the cycling media that resulted in him being ostracised while others were allowed to continue their careers in the sport.

Floyd Landis even comes to Armstrong's defence, saying: "Lance didn't invent doping, it wasn't his idea."

"He shouldn't be treated any different from [former teammate and current boss of EF Pro Cycling team] Jonathan Vaughters.

"Just because he's a better athlete that happened to take the same drugs, I don't understand how [Vaughters] ends up being the messiah that's curing doping and [Armstrong] is the outcast."

What that viewpoint ignores is Armstrong's reputation for dragging people through the mud, ruining their reputations to save his own, such as former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy, as well as working to end LeMond's contract with bike manufacturer Trek after LeMond criticised his relationship with Dr Michel Ferrari.

"It might be one lie because you answer once, or in my case it might be 10,000 lies because you've answered 10,000 times," Armstrong said.

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Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong on the 2009 Tour de France podium in Paris (Image credit The sports channel launched a trailer of the documentary which will air on May 24 at 9 p.m. EDT this The trailer features Armstrong and former teammate George Hincapie ("I did tell Lance to just

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme says there should be "no winner " of the seven titles Lance Armstrong won if the decision to strip him of his "Peddlers: Cycling' s Dirty Truth" includes interviews with Armstrong ' s former team-mate Tyler Hamilton, former Wada head Dick Pound, and

"Then you take it a step further and reinforce and go 'don't you ever ask me that f***ing question again'. And then you go sue somebody.

"That's why it was 100 times worse. Because we all lied."

Armstrong's 'fundamentally evil' act

During the documentary, Armstrong is asked about the worst things he has ever done.

There's some list to choose from, not least a litany of careers and livelihoods he ruined in an attempt to preserve his image along the way, resulting in Armstrong pausing enough to have Zenovich accuse him of deflecting.

"Probably the way I treated and spoke about Emma O'Reilly. That was probably the worst," Armstrong said.

This was in relation to his testimony against O'Reilly, his team's former massage therapist, who told journalist David Walsh Armstrong had been using drugs.

"To call a woman a whore is totally unacceptable. It's hard to be worse than that," Armstrong said.

"I was an idiot and in full attack mode, that's why I did it. I would have said anything."

However, the other thing Armstrong says is "right up there with Emma" is his attack of Italian rider Filippo Simeoni during the 2004 Tour.

Simeoni had spoken out and testified against the controversial Dr Ferrari, Armstrong's coach, and his links to drug taking.

After chasing him down and riding next to him, Armstrong sent a message to the world that speaking out would not be tolerated by miming a zipping of his lips towards the TV camera.

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It is one of the most iconic images in that era of the Tour de France.

"You cannot get any more fundamentally evil than that," Vaughters says in the film.

Contradictions of Armstrong's cancer work

As single-minded and as driven as Armstrong was throughout his career, footage of his work with the Livestrong foundation showed a different side to him.

The documentary shows Armstrong as very hands-on, although meeting terminally ill patients would leave him "a wreck" according to former business manager Bart Knaggs.

And Armstrong's profile helped generate enormous amounts of funds for his charity, raising millions of dollars for cancer survivors, including the near-ubiquitous early 2000s fashion accessory, a yellow Livestrong band, of which 80 million were made and sold.

As is pointed out in the documentary, Armstrong's cancer advocacy is not an excuse for his doping but neither does his doping negate the great work he did raising money for cancer patients.

However, some of Armstrong's other comments further muddy the waters.

Some of his former business partners say in the film that "Armstrong Inc" meant he could never back down and allow the rumours around his drug-taking to develop.

Armstrong said it was "unfair" to say he used Livestrong as a shield, yet in the very next sentence added, "I'll admit, I used cancer occasionally as a shield".

This came after Armstrong said in episode one that he could not be sure whether or not taking drugs earlier in his career when he was 21 — earlier than he'd previously admitted — had caused his cancer.

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"I don't know if it's yes or no, but I certainly wouldn't say no," Armstrong said.

"The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [the year Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer].

"So, just in my head, I'm like 'growth, growing hormones and cells, if anything good needs to be grown it does, but wouldn't it also make sense that if anything bad was there it too would grow?'"

Clear? Well wait until you hear from Armstrong's son, Luke.

Armstrong wouldn't be happy if his son took PED's. Kinda.

In the documentary we meet Luke, Armstrong's son, who was just 12 when his father "flipped [his] world upside down" with that Oprah interview.

Luke is now an offensive lineman at Rice University, something he highlighted primarily so he could "be Luke and not be Lance's son".

In that vein, Luke is asked whether he would ever take performance-enhancing drugs.

"I've always felt grinding for something and really working for a specific goal has always been so much more worth it than taking a shortcut," Armstrong junior said.

"I also feel if I ever did that and got caught, for random people, they would be like 'he's just like his dad'."

Would Lance be disappointed if his son was taking performance-enhancing drugs though?

"If we were put in the position where Luke came to me and said either 'I'd like to try this' or 'I'm doing this' I would say that's a bad idea, you're a freshman in college.

"It might be a different conversation if you're in the NFL, but at this point in your life, in your career, not worth it."

Aside from further illustrating Armstrong's apparent disregard for the rules when it came to gaining an advantage, that comment also highlights the absence of his contrition in relation to drug-taking throughout the documentary.

The Lance Dance

The 10-part The Last Dance more than whetted the public's appetite for a detailed look at some of sport's most intriguing characters, and Lance is a perfect follow for many reasons.

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Ahead of The Last Dance, Michael Jordan warned that people wouldn't like him after watching him use every tool at his disposal to reach the top, no matter the cost to those who got in his way.

In Lance, Armstrong is similarly unapologetic about doing everything he could to win, even admitting to making up rivalries to motivate himself, just like Jordan did.

The vaguely contemptuous shrugs when attempting to justify something unpleasant that he had done are jarringly similar to those displayed by Jordan, albeit the things Armstrong is defending are far more serious.

Jordan portrayed himself as freakishly talented athlete who knew how to push himself to greater heights, despite displaying a single-minded focus to the point of selfishness in pursuit of that glory, unafraid to throw people by the wayside in the process.

On that level, there is no difference between Jordan and any of the all-time great athletes, including Armstrong.

"I couldn't be a different person off the bike," Armstrong said of his attacks in the courts and media on those who crossed him.

"There was no getting in my way, and it worked really well for training and racing. Perfect for that. It just doesn't work well with another human being who's not in the race."

Will he ever be forgiven?

"With regards to how I carried myself as the leader of a sport, the leader of a cause … inexcusable. Totally inappropriate behaviour. For that I'm deeply sorry," Armstrong says by way of a conclusion.

"I wish I could change it. I wish I could have been a better man.

"All I can do is say I'm sorry and move on. And hope that others do to."

The last sentence almost comes across as a threat, Armstrong challenging people to forgive him.

Whether that is realistic or not is a different matter.

Throughout the film, Armstrong appears to show no genuine remorse for his actions, or at most, an apology immediately contradicted by a claim that casts those words into doubt.

"The story is so polarising … it will always be that way," Armstrong said.

"I don't expect it to change, I don't want it to change, I'm not trying to will it to change. It's complicated."

For those reasons, the public are unlikely to be sold on whether Armstrong is going to be redeemed by this film, not that he appears too worried by that fact.

"Some people just can't chill the f*** out," Armstrong said.

"They're pissed. Still. And they will be pissed forever."

'Disturbed' Buddy's Aboriginal flag response .
Lance Franklin says he's "deeply disturbed" by a furore over the use of the Aboriginal flag in merchandise.Franklin was lashed by fellow Indigenous sporting great Nova Peris for his association with WAM Clothing, a company which claims to have an exclusive worldwide licence for using the flag on clothing.

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