It’s been tough to keep up with it all. There’s Tuesday’s banner USA Today headline, “LEMOND SLAMS LANCE, SAYS ACTIONS ‘CRIMINAL.’
[CNN’s Anderson] Cooper asked LeMond if Armstrong perpetrated the greatest fraud in sports history.
Absolutely. Absolutely,” LeMond replied. “The greatest fraud was that, I mean, I know his physical capabilities. He is a top 30 at best. I mean, at best. No matter what. If he was clean, everybody was clean, he was top 30 at best. He is not capable …of the top five.
“What do you think should happen to him now?” Cooper asked.
“This is not a sporting infraction, said LeMond, a three-time Tour de France winner. “This is criminal.”
“You think he should go to jail?” Cooper asked.
“I do, yes,” said LeMond, who compared Armstrong to Bernie Madoff.
A couple of days before, in The Guardian, another damning headline: “Lance Armstrong tells Alex Gibney: ‘The lie is no longer believable.’ (http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/oct/20/lance-armstrong-drugs-in-sp). If The Armstrong Lie (released next month) is anywhere near as good as Gibney’s Enron tour de force, The Smartest Guys in the Room, his treatment of Armstrong’s tour de farce should be mesmerizing. It started as comeback movie to be called The Road Back, but for obvious reasons was never released. Paul Kimmage of The Observer asks:
What if it had been released and people thought: “What a hero. We love this guy.” And then a month later, the Usada report is released and now those same people are in shock: “He’s a doper! Hey Alex Gibney, what have you just sold us here?”
Yeah, well, there was that, and that’s why we didn’t release it. It was not a promo job – there was quite a bit about how brutal he was with people and the allegations of doping – but, in the light of events, it was not a film that could be credible. As Lance once told me – because we had a conversation prior to Oprah when he was pondering how to come forward and I said, not nudging him: “Why don’t you just keep doing what you always do and fight?” He said “Well, the lie is no longer believable.” So there had come a moment when the lie was no longer believable.
The movie premiered recently at the Toronto Film Festival. From Fox News:
Taking a fresh look at the footage late last year, Gibney and producer Frank Marshall recognized that they had captured the incredible truth that had been “hiding in plain sight,” he said. “We realized that we had all of this stuff that we didn’t know was so important then, but was now important,” said Marshall.
There’s another new book. The authors, two seasoned Wall Street Journal reporters, have been making the radio rounds promoting Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever. Unfortunately, they’re not on the bill for this weekend’s Texas Book Festival. The book’s billed as ”The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.”
He finally returned the bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics. There’s that.
Odd, too, I thought, was the comment on The Guardian’s site from author Malcolm Gladwell, defending Liestrong.
“Imagine,” Gladwell says, “if all the schools in England had a rule that you can’t do homework, because homework is a way in which less able kids can close the gap that Nature said ought to exist. Basically, Armstrong did his homework and lied about it! Underneath the covers, with his flashlight on, he did his calculus! And I’m supposed to get upset about that?”
To which a blogger responded in the comments:
Well, injecting yourself with substances that have been specifically banned by your sport’s governing body to give yourself an advantage, winning lots of races and making lots of money, lying about your use of these substance, and bullying people attempt to point out the truth – would that meet your definition of cheating? I think society has a fairly broad consensus on this one.