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Review: Stop at nothing, the Lance Armstrong story

Alia Parker's picture
Stop At Nothing, the Lance Armstrong Story. Cycle Traveller

Back in 2009 I was touring through the United States when I cycled into Austin, Texas, the hometown of Lance Armstrong. On the walls of his bicycle shop Mellow Johnny's hung a collection of yellow jerseys and at one end of the room stood two bicycles ridden in the Tour de France. It was exciting to see. Back then, accusations of doping clouded the world's most famous cyclists, but amid a lack of "evidence", Armstrong remained a seven-time Tour champion. Deep down I had my suspicions, but I shrugged them off; like everyone else, I wanted to believe.

But it wasn't true. We had been taken for a ride, and a new documentary by BAFTA and Emmy award-winning director Alex Holmes reveals just how long a ride it was.

In the opening scenes of Stop At Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story, a 21-year old Armstrong sets out to become cycling's first 'Million Dollar Man'. It's in the days before his introduction to performance enhancing drugs and the talented young cyclist racing for Motorola is a favourite to win the Thrift Drug Triple Crown of Cycling in June 1993 an take home the US$1 million prize. But he has one key rival – the Italian Roberto Gaggioli.

Now a much older man, Gaggioli faces the camera and says he wanted to race to win, but under pressure from his teammates who had been bribed by Armstrong, and following a verbal reminder from the American during the race, he pulled back. It was a fix. He describes how after the race Armstrong came to visit him with $100,000 in a metal pantone box.

From the very start, the documentary outlines how Armstrong was a cheat, and his web of deception was to grow bigger and more tangled as he viciously sought to slander those who knew the truth.

The truth was Armstrong, in conjunction with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, ran the most sophisticated doping program that has ever been exposed in sporting history – a program the entire team was 'expected' to participate in. As he would later admit to Oprah, the list of drugs coursing through Armstrong's veins included EPO, growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone, enough to make any pharmacist raise their eyebrows.

What makes Holmes' documentary 'Stop At Nothing' so revealing is its candid conversations with the key people who ultimately led to Armstrong's downfall – people who used to be some of Armstrong's best friends and teammates, including Frankie and Betsey Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, Travis Tygart, Emma o'Reilly and former Livestrong director Steve Whisnant.

Perhaps most disappointing are revelations about just how many people knew, extending beyond his US Postal Service teamates and support staff to include his backers and sponsors at the very top. And even more disturbing are allegations that Armstrong's connections reached so high that he was able to have the FBI investigation against him dropped, which conveniently happened while most of the United States was out drinking on Super Bowl day.

The content is heavy, but intriguing and hacks away at the image of Armstrong as a charitable hero and paints one of a greedy egomaniac. And while it may leave a sinking feeling in any cycling fan's heart, it is essential watching to understand the back-office politics of a now infamous era in the sport's history.

Perhaps I, like many other cycling fans, could have found it in our hearts to forgive a drug cheat in an era of cycling where drugs were endemic, but as Stop At Nothing shows, Armstrong was much more than just a cheat.

Win Stop At Nothing: the Lance Armstrong story

This competition has closed.

Cycle Traveller has three DVD copies of Stop At Nothing to give away. To enter, email your name and postal address to competitions@cycletraveller.com.au.

Terms and conditions

Entry open to Australian and New Zealand residents only. Entries close on Friday, August 15, 2014. The winner will be notified by email and announced on Cycle Traveller's Facebook and Twitter pages. Prize valued at $19.95 plus postage. No cash prizes.

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