Unravelling of the Livestrong facade

Caroline Fogarty

Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong is the revealing story of Armstrong’s web of lies and doping history. Written by Juliet Macur, the book dives into not only the cyclist’s actions, but also his character.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time,” Abraham Lincoln once said.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong learned the hard way to what extent that quotation is true.

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Macur, who has reported on Armstrong since 2004, claims that after less-than-friendly relations throughout the years, Armstrong finally allowed her to extensively interview him.

According to Macur, even though he has fallen from his throne, Armstrong still thought he could steer the path of her book when she went to interview him.

“Troubled by endless obituaries of his celebrated (and now fraudulent) career, he wanted to ensure that I wrote ‘the true story,’” writes Macur.

As I turned the first few pages of this pariah’s story, I reminisced and rubbed my left wrist where I had worn a Livestrong bracelet nonstop during my elementary school years.  I silently cursed the mafia-like operations of Tour de France for making Armstrong turn to doping.

However, as I kept reading Macur’s detailed retelling of Armstrong’s story, I was disgusted by the cyclist himself.  Each section brought a new slough of vivid information.

Especially haunting are the retellings of statements recorded by Armstrong’s mentor, John Thomas Neal, who passed away in 2002 of cancer.  These hours of testimony from a fatherly figure offer a view of Armstrong’s life from someone he trusted.  Neal speaks of Armstrong’s rise to fame as well as how he poorly treated people who supported him.

The emphasis of this book is on why and how Armstrong fell from his sainthood status.  Macur attempts to psychoanalyze the cyclist by breaking down his relationships with fellow riders, sponsors, and employees. Macur goes to great lengths to accurately portray Armstrong’s story, with interviews from over 100 principal characters and witnesses in his life.

Like Game of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, Cycle of Lies is a thorough piece of sports investigative journalism that does more than focus on just one athlete who dopes, but rather criticizes the entire sport.

“Yep, you are a really good liar, but you’re horrible at telling the truth,” said John Korioth, Armstrong’s good friend.

Watch any television interview with Armstrong from his glory years and you cannot see a trace of deceit on his face.  This book made my blood boil as the façade of the cyclist’s philanthropic works and biking awards fall away and all that is left is a lying excuse of an athlete.

Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong is all but monotonous, and offers 480 pages full of descriptive nonfiction writing uncovering arguably the most famous doping scandal of all time.