Last Sunday, ESPN released the first of a two part Lance Armstrong documentary. The two hour 30 for 30 went into detail about Armstrong’s upbringing, his first few years as a professional cyclist, and his inspiring battle with cancer. The two hours contained some interesting insight into Armstrong and the cycling world. However, there was an element that was underrepresented; tension.
The feature started off with a bang. Armstrong told a story about a man yelling “F**k You!” at him after the world learned of his doping. Then Bonnie Ford, an ESPN senior writer, almost warns the audience of Armstrong’s manipulative tendencies.
Maybe this doc will really show the true, ugly story of what happened. How Armstrong ruined the reputation of a sport by cheating. How he fractured many Americans who wanted to believe in Armstrong after he incredibly beat stage three testicular cancer. But not even five minutes into the doc, a red flag pops up.
“I’m gonna tell you my truth,” Armstrong says. “And my truth is not my version. My truth is the way I remember it.”
For much of this feature, that is exactly how the doc reads. Armstrong’s truth. It does not necessarily come off as incredibly biased or flat out lies. But it does seem to lean more towards the truth Armstrong and the other racers want to get across.
Many former cyclists were a part of the episode, including teammates of Armstrong. We hear a lot about how many if not all the racers were doping at the time. They highlight cheating was a systemic issue ravaging the entire sport.
That is all fine and I have no problem hearing that position. However, what this doc lacks is the counterargument. The feature begins with Armstrong telling a story about an angry fan and a journalist discussing his desire to manipulate narratives. Yet there is not a bitter racer, media member, or fan included.
This Sunday, cycling icon Greg LeMond needs to be in Part 2. He has been one of Armstrong’s harshest critics, and is still disappointed in his decisions. If LeMond declined to participate in the series, than a disclaimer saying so should be included. If he was never approached, then this feature does not carry much weight.
Amrstong’s cheating and lying angered many people. This documentary should voice them. While setting up context is important, this story is too controversial to not include the unfortunate truth.
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