When news of the Penn State sex abuse scandal broke in 2011, diehard fans pledged their devotion as they kneeled on then-Coach Joe Paterno's lawn. What is it about sports that gets everybody so riled, and more importantly, so ready to deny wrongdoing? This is one of many perplexing questions Alex Gibney poses in his new documentary The Armstrong Lie, an all-access telling of superstar cyclist Lance Armstrong's long and once-glorious career.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Gibney followed Armstrong throughout 2008-2009, amassing footage to build the comeback story of the athlete's return from retirement. After three years off the bike, Armstrong was training for his eighth Tour de France, confident even as rumors swirled that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win his previous seven races.
"If you're trying to hide something, you wouldn't keep getting away with it for 10 years. Nobody is that clever," said Armstrong in January 2011. Perhaps no one is clever enough to carry on such a deceit, but Gibney's film illustrates the power of fame, the pursuit of perfection, and lengths some will go to win.