1998, Greg LeMond was the last American to win the Tour de France. In 2012,
LeMond once again became the last American to win the Tour. He had not staged a
comeback. The US Anti-Doping Agency had stripped Lance Armstrong of his Yellow
Jerseys. Everyone (including Armstrong, to some extent) now concedes the
cyclist lied and cheated. However, his former fans will be shocked by the
systematic deceit and vindictiveness exposed in Alex Holmes’ Lance Armstrong: Stop at Nothing (trailer here), which airs on
Showtime this Friday.
a matter of seconds, Holmes conclusively proves Armstrong perjured himself. In
a videotaped deposition, he flatly denies taking the illegal performance
enhancing drugs (PEDs) he later copped to during his Oprah confessional, while
readily acknowledging he was under oath. Holmes then rewinds to chronicle the
unvarnished story of Armstrong’s rise and fall. Once, he was a clean and promising
talent, but he was already cutting shady deals with competing cyclists—or so
they allege with accounts of Panettone tins full of cash.
Stop at Nothing implies the first
Tour might have been legit, but soon thereafter, Armstrong commenced a
professional relationship with Michele Ferrari, a notorious sports physician
with a reputation for crossing over the line. We know from Armstrong’s own lips
he consumed a whole battery of enhancers. According to teammate Frankie Andreu
and his wife Betsy, Armstrong also admitted it to his cancer doctors, in their
presence, during the early stages of his treatment. That conversation would
become the focus of a pitched legal battle.
the heroic protagonist of Stop at Nothing
is Betsy Andreu. Alarmed by the obvious risks of PED abuse, Andreu forced
her husband to stay largely clear of them, which ultimately cost him his place
on the US Postal Service Team. Knowing what they knew, Armstrong and his
surrogates did their best to pressure the Andreus into silence, but they stuck
to their guns when subpoenaed.
other heroes of Stop at Nothing are Greg
and Kathy LeMond, who were vilified in the media when the former Tour champion
diplomatically cautioned colleagues not to lash U.S. Cycling’s wagon so tightly
to Armstrong’s star. Former Armstrong Foundation executive director Steve Whisnant
explicitly regrets not heeding LeMond’s advice. For his common sense, LeMond
was rewarded with canceled endorsements and wild rumors of alcohol and heroin
times, Stop at Nothing resembles a
gangster movie, where whistleblowers are routinely intimidated and ostracized.
Yet, other times, it plays like a spy film, documenting the elaborate means by
which Ferrari’s treatments were smuggled to Armstrong’s team. It is all completely
gripping and absolutely scandalizing in the tradition of the best true crime
There is a general sense Armstrong started lying
to himself as well as the cycling world at large, essentially losing sight of
the truth. As problematic as that is, the reality is far worse. The portrait Holmes
paints is of a clinical sociopath, who fully understood the implications of his
actions and would do anything necessary to maintain his righteous public image.
It is not pretty, but it is fascinating. Stop
at Nothing is a damning indictment and a grab-you-by-the-lapels watching
experience. Recommended for fans of cycling and legal thrillers, Lance Armstrong: Stop at Nothing premieres
this Friday (11/7) on Showtime, with multiple airdates to follow.
Labels: Documentary, Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong, Showtime