Tarnished cyclist Lance Armstrong is at the center of an ongoing controversy about doping in the sport. He’s also now in the spotlight in Hollywood. The first of several anticipated movies about the iconic athlete recently showed in Aspen. In The Armstrong Lie, award winning director Alex Gibney examines the underbelly of the the cyclist’s career. Reporter Elise Thatcher caught up with viewers after a showing at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.
Amidst piles of snow, Jack Boyd had a thoughtful take on the film, saying, “It was a big pill of morality to digest. Lot of angles on power and a storyline that we were so into and deceived by.” Boyd, an Aspen resident, had followed some of the details revealed about Armstrong’s doping, but didn’t know about some of the bigger, more damning evidence… like how the athlete used EPO, a particularly powerful drug. Katherine Bell also saw the film last night, and reacted this way: “I dunno, I’m still just astonished at the length that he went to cover his complete deception over winning in a sport that he loved so much.”
If filmmaker Alex Gibney’s name is familiar, it might be from his earlier film, The Smartest Guys in the Room, about the Enron scandal. He has also turned an unblinking eye on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, US torture tactics during the War on Terror and even Hunter S Thompson. In The Armstrong Lie, Gibney includes a dizzying array of details that create a picture of how and why the cyclist chose to deny his doping for so long.
Aspen resident Bill Repplinger has closely followed news about Armstrong’s extensive use of performance enhancing drugs. He explains the film hasn’t changed his view of the athlete, saying “I really enjoyed it, I still have a lot of respect for Lance Armstrong, and feel that he didn’t ruin cycling.” For Jack Boyd, it was helpful seeing so many references to home in the film, saying “I love the like connection to Aspen, and you see a little bit of Aspen in the film, and his home in the West End, it’s just this classic men and their power story.”
The Armstrong Lie explains not only how so many other riders were doping during Lance’s career. It also raises questions about whether cycling officials allowed it to happen. More evidence of that is expected to emerge over the next year, as an independent commission begins to investigate doping in cycling. Officials and riders alike are being asked to participate… including Armstrong. There’s even a chance that if Armstrong agrees to name names and provide information, he might be able to compete again someday. Maybe.