Right off the bat, Director Marina Zenovich asks Armstrong and his Olympian teammates when was the first time you doped. What does that really mean? It means enhance performance pills and injections (aka EPO) giving your body and edge over competitors. The most powerful image at the start is this humiliated champ swimming in the rain. That rain turned his life and career into a full throttle thunderstorm. The American icon who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times found himself on a personal, professional and financial downward spiral.
The multi-award winning cyclist seemed like a real life Superman, an Olympian, handsome and seemingly unstoppable. Since admitting in 2013 to using performance enhancing drugs, there were multiple lawsuit fights with the final one alleging that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. Postal Service by accepting sponsorship money while doping. His flippant attitude and arrogance didn’t win a lot of friends, but many foes respected his competitive spirit often times comparing his Tour de France triumphs to running a marathon every day for three weeks on tiny bikes, windy roads in gear comparable to underwear.
Following the phenomenal success of The Last Dance, ESPN now sheds the spotlight on LANCE, who is very candid about ALL of it – the good, the bad, the ugly and the devastating humiliation along the way. Like most athletes, he despised losing. So imagine being able to fight and win nearly every race, except the one for your life with cancer – twice. Yet, out of all the pain a silver lining was born with ‘Live Strong.’
Being diagnosed with any form of cancer is an extremely scary chapter for any human being. Regardless of what you feel about Lance, his doping, his arrogance, his attitude, know that it is because of his transparency and support with his cancer fight that has erased a stigma that was previously associated with the disease.
At the end of the day, we are left with a taste in our mouth of how dogmatic the world of sports can be. How the most successful athletes of all time are individuals who push themselves physically and mentally beyond their limits without little to any regard for who they take down along the way. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it blows up in your face and sometimes it leaves you with a legacy you either have to defend or embrace.
Lance Armstrong was able to survive the scandal, but many of his peers and constituents were not. Just goes to show you in the end it doesn’t matter who plays the game. but how it’s played to ensure you prevail at the top by any means necessary.
Produced by ESPN, the two part documentary LANCE hits the airwaves today as part of their 30 for 30 series.