“When my life took the turn it took I thought that wherever I went there would always be someone who would come up to me and, showing me a middle finger, would scream at me fuck you, fuck you. Days go by, months go by, years go by, and no one yells the fuck at me. I even think I see in someone’s face, in their eyes, that they are going to yell at me, are you going to yell at me, eh ?, but nothing. Five years have passed. I’m in Denver in an apartment and I call an Uber, who is waiting in front of me, next to a bar. We cross the street, and a guy comes up to me and says, Hey, Lance! What’s up, man? I reply, and he approaches me with his finger, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you! And six or seven colleagues get up from the terrace and shout to him: fuck you, fuck you, you cheating shit. My partner says to me, come on Lance, get in the car, he surely thinks, because he knows me, that I’m going to jump on him and beat the guy up, and that would have done, for sure, most of my life, because I’m very pissed off, and I know that I have to do something, I am Armstrong, I do not allow that to be done to me, this cannot be so. I go into the bar and I give the bartender my credit card, I do not care what they have taken or what they are going to have or eat, even if it is the most expensive, I invite, but with one condition, you have to go out and tell them, Boys, Lance invites you and sends you his love. There are people who will never calm down. They are still angry and will be for the rest of their lives. ”
Cast in black. Life begins.
Lance Armstrong has already sublimated his entire history, his ascension and his disintegration, and integrated into his psyche the “nuclear disaster” that led to his fall in December 2012 after the denunciation of his former partner Floyd Landis – the erasure of his history, of his seven Tours, as if they had never existed, the loss of its cancer foundation, its sponsors, Nike, Trek, the fraud trials … – not as something inevitable but as the best thing that could have happened to it, and Only after that does Armstrong, who is already 48 years old, reach the final conclusions, the confessions that mark the almost three and a half hours of the documentary Lance, which, directed by Marina Zenovich, broadcasts ESPN in the United States in two parts (Sunday 24 and Sunday 31) just after the series about Michael Jordan, another look at the idols of the sport that the United States has given to the world.
Lance Armstrong is a Texas boy raised by an adoptive parent raised in a military school who gives him a last name that he really likes because it sounds good, like a good trademark, better than Gunderson, his biological last name, and daily beatings for disobedience. “I treated him like an animal, I instilled in him the need to win at any price. I gave him orders and not hugs, but without that education, Lance would not have been the champion he was, “says the father who was not, and Lance accepts it, and continues to define himself as the Texas boy who comes to cycling and joins its culture, the culture of doping.
The culture of lies.
“I will not lie. Nor do I say that those who say otherwise are lying. I will tell you my truth. My truth is not my version of the facts but the way I remember them, “Armstrong begins, and then begins to talk about the lie, and the film is not a string of self-justifications, but an adjustment of accounts of Armstrong with himself . “No one doping tells the truth. You can only be honest if nobody asks you. As soon as they ask you, you lie. Maybe you only lie once if they only ask you once, but in my case it was 10,000 lies because they asked me 10,000 times. And then it is inevitable to go one step further, and send whoever asks you to be taken to the ass, and you threaten them, and you begin to denounce people [su jefe de prensa, Yogui Müller, hacía listas negras con los periodistas que preguntaban], and that’s 100 times worse. We all lie ”, says the one who was the tyrant of the Tour between 1999 and 2005, and with great pleasure. “I had to have been different. Aggression, violence, the desire to annihilate everything that was against me, was something that suited me very well on the bike, but that way of being does not work in real life ”.
He says it after apologizing to Emma O’Reilly, the masseuse who denounced that it was a lie that his positive for corticosteroids in the Tour of 99 was due to an allowed ointment, since he had consciously injected them, and whom Armstrong called “bitch ”To discredit his testimony. “The worst thing I’ve ever done in my life? Perhaps the way I treated Emma O’Reilly, and how I talked about her. It was probably the worst, yes. I was an idiot, ”he confesses, adding Filippo Simeoni, the Italian cyclist who testified that Michele Ferrari, to his expiatory list. [médico italiano sancionado por dopaje, alumno de Francesco Conconi y profeta de la EPO a principios de los 90, responsable del dominio del Gewiss de Berzin, Argentin, Colombo, Furlan, Riis…] he was Armstrong’s coach. At one stage of the 2004 Tour, Simeoni ran away and the North American, with the yellow jersey, went after him and neutralized him, insulted him like a hitman, insults a sneak, and, looking at the camera, made the mafia gesture to put on a zipper in your mouth. “I was a fucking asshole. It took me many days to learn and realize what I had done. What I thought was bad was actually much worse, “he says.
The pardon he asks for is not offered to Landis, who denounced him, who, he says, does not fall into the category of “forgivable.” “It could go worse,” he says. “It could be Floyd Landis. I would feel terrible all day. I really know, I know Floyd has a terrible time. “
And it tells its story, the history of European cycling in the 90s, the old tradition of knowledge that champions pass each other. The history of the EPO.
“I started doping when I was 21 years old, in 1993, when I was world champion, but only with cortisone and stimulant. I always knew what I was wearing. I always asked when they were going to inject me with something and I always made the decision. I couldn’t stand the doctors who told me not to ask. I was educated in doping, I knew what they put me and I accepted it.
In ’93 the EPO rumors in the peloton were already tremendous. In ’94, every day I stayed, they pounded me, I ate my snot. I only went with cortisone, low octane gasoline. The others, with EPO. That was high octane, rocket fuel. And that was the decision we had to make. The EPO ran through the peloton like a wild, uncontrollable fire. It was an Epidemic. I had to catch up with those motherfuckers. ”
Eddy Merckx had sent his son Axel to train with Ferrari. In 1995, Axel signed for Armstrong’s Motorola in 1995, which also uses bikes made by the cannibal. “I asked Eddy to introduce me to Ferrari and in the winter of ’95 I started working with him. It was a totally confidential relationship. It was very direct, yes, but it worked with me. I did to the letter everything he ordered me to do. His motto was ‘less is more’, and when we told him that the squad talked about this or that atomic substance, he told us: stop being silly, all you need is red blood cells. What if doping was the cause of my cancer in the summer of ’96? I dont know. I don’t know the answer. I can’t say no, because I don’t know. But I always think that the only time in my life that I took growth hormone was in the 1996 season, and the notion that if growth hormone made grow and multiply all the good things in my body, it always goes around it would also make bad things grow. ”
When he won his first Tour in 1999, Lance was asked how it was possible to be so strong after having overcome cancer in a sport that everyone knew was a cultivation of doping. He, the former Lance, responded defiantly: “Maybe chemotherapy has performance-enhancing qualities, hehe.”
Lance premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, but Armstrong saw it premiere in December alongside director Marina Zenovich, who recorded eight interviews with the American. “When I offered him the idea, he accepted at the outset, although later he appreciated repenting. But he said he could ask what he wanted, that there would be no closed territory. Maybe I didn’t know how much I was going to pressure him, and I pressured and pressured him trying to get to the truth, ”explains Zenovich, who before starting knew little about the story or Armstrong. “I don’t think Lance enjoyed watching him. It is not an easy thing to see. Some parts he liked, others not. I don’t know what he expected to come out, but I know I was always honest and honest with him. And I think he was incredibly honest and sincere in his responses, except for those things he didn’t want to dig into. What he was saying to me is that he, in his inner circle, has already turned the page because he has had no choice. ” Armstrong tells his friends that he didn’t like the documentary at all, that he felt cheated, he.
It is a sentimental and conformist Armstrong that ends up emerging in the last shots. A sentimental rage makes him cry for Jan Ullrich, the only cyclist he has always respected and for whose descent into hell from depression and madness he blames so many press that he never respected him after his fall in Operation Puerto. Or Marco Pantani’s, dead. He, although also crucified, has been saved: “I can sleep every day without problems, I can live at ease with myself.”