CNN Documentary 'The World According to Lance Armstrong' Exposes Web of Deceit

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IOctober 26, 2012

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 07:  Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong speaks at the launch of a Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Global Art Exhibition at Montalban Theater, March 7, 2009 in Hollywood, California. The Exhibition was aimed at raising funds and awareness in the fight against Cancer.  (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)
Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

An exposé soon to be broadcast on CNN, The World According to Lance Armstrong offers a fascinating insight into the mind of the man who has been one of the most prominent names in international sport for over a decade.

It opens with Lance Armstrong standing atop the podium after winning the 2005 Tour de France, delivering a heartfelt message to his detractors (from the transcript):

Finally, the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics: I'm sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles.

And if he ever looks back and wonders why people don’t believe in miracles, it’s because charlatans have been holding out falsehoods as miracles for too long.

We’re not dumb enough to keep falling for it.

Originally produced for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the documentary paints a picture of a man who had built a myth around himself that was so complete, so carefully crafted, that he seemed to forget that it wasn’t real.

Featuring evidence from key players in the USADA investigation, including friends, teammates and some of cycling’s most influential players, the documentary looks into the surreal world that had been built around Armstrong.

It also examines what Armstrong himself said in the only videotaped sworn deposition, in which he answers specific doping questions.

In the fascinating video taken in the SCA Promotions case—where SCA wanted to avoid paying a huge bonus to Armstrong—he comes across as earnest, impatient and, at times, dismissive.

Most of all, he is absolutely compelling and believable, with not a hint of deceit present in his demeanour.

He is calm, collected, unemotional.

What he’s delivering are the unequivocal truths that serve as the foundation for all that Armstrong built for himself. He believes in them absolutely.

It’s difficult to imagine what it was like living inside a glass house built, as it was, under huge rocks of deceit, suspended there by the man himself, knowing that, at any time, they could all come crashing down.

He knew what was at risk, telling SCA's lawyer:

If you have a doping offence or you test positive, it goes without saying that you're fired from all your contracts. Not just the team, but there's numerous contracts that I have that would all go away.

When asked if he was referring to sponsorship agreements, he replied:

All of them. And the faith of all the cancer survivors around the world. So everything I do off of the bike would go away too. And don't think for a second I don't understand that. It's not about money for me. Everything. It's also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. So all of that would be erased. So I don't need it to say in a contract you're fired if you test positive. That's not as important as losing the support of hundreds of millions of people.

While those words are powerful in themselves, seeing Armstrong deliver them with such conviction in light of the USADA evidence is chilling.

It is curious that Armstrong has taken no steps to defend himself since the USADA decision or the subsequent UCI ratification. Perhaps it is because he is maintaining his steadfast refusal to engage in the USADA case.

Perhaps, however, it’s because even he can see the game is up, and that realisation is just sinking in. The rocks have come crashing down.

The World According to Lance Armstrong will air on CNN Saturday, Oct. 27, at 9:00 p.m. ET.

(Transcript from the documentary's original ABC Australia homepage.)