I’m torn. And while you don’t particularly care what, or why, I am torn, in order to explain my complicated response to HBO’s hilarious mockumentary, it’s going to require me to walk you through it anyway. And if you’ve ever been out to THinc. ever before, then you know that nothing is simple. Nothing. Even the simple things don’t survive when held under my gaze.

So I start back in 1995 I took notice of a very young Lance Armstrong and his Stage 18 win of the Tour de France. I was only marginally aware of what the Tour de France even was back then. But after Lance’s cancer struggle and his successful return in 1998. My adoration for Lance literally changed my life. Like, I read everything I could about the various tours and races, but solely in pursuit of my love for the Tour de France. And when the race ran, I woke at 3 am, and went in to work around noon every day. I would even inform my boss, yeah, that’s just the way it was going to be. I’d work late, I did whatever I had to do in order to watch every minute of every Tour de France. (Those summary cycle cast things are for losers. You can quote me on that.)
Yes, my life changed. And throughout Europe the cries about doping got louder and louder. But I reveled in their unbelief that this American could possibly dash the entire field singlehandedly… and without drugs. Yeah. About that. But then came Floyd Landis, and Lance’s other team mates that began to tell stories of drugs. Wait, wah?

When Lance went on Oprah and admitted to his doping I quit. I stopped with the Tour, I stopped with Lance. I bailed on the entirety of it all.

But then came the HBO’s hilarious mockumentary Tour de Pharmacy. It’s short. Only 38 minutes. So it’s an easy watch. Let me just say this, I found myself laughing out loud at many of the inside jokes and the numerous different ways in which the show lambasted the entirety of the culture and this little world of cycling. But I wondered when Lance came on to the screen towards the end, if I might just throw my TV out the window or not. Ultimately I didn’t. PHEW. But wow. Talk about a catharsis. Man.

Still, if you are a fan of cycling. Or even if you have just watched a couple races. I highly recommend this mockumentary from HBO. Definitely made me laugh a lot. And heck, maybe, just maybe, it will begin my path back to sanity and out of my counselor’s office that I’ve been locked in since 2013.

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10 Responses

  1. De Advocate

    I’ll have to check this out. After watching the Netflix documentary about Lance, I don’t know if I could find humor in any aspect of him. Talk about a type A narcissist asshole ol’ Lance buddy.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Agreed. And if you notice, I didn’t really talk about his part in the movie. Kinda makes me ill a little bit to think he probably got paid for showing up by HBO. But the rest of the movie really was funny… that is if you understand cycling and the culture of it.

  2. Shelby

    Doping in cycling was and is normal, and the same goes for many sports. I think people overreacted to hearing the news and refuse to let it go because they felt stupid for believing someone could do that without steroids. But that’s their own issue- not his or any other athlete.

    Everyone cheats- everyone, not just athletes. Watch some videos of Dan Ariely’s behavioral research and you might have a different reaction to what Lance and other cyclists did. The fact is that we all cheat to varying degrees. Lance didn’t hurt people or animals- unlike athletes like OJ or Michael Vick who somehow still have a fan base- so everyone needs to calm down about Lance Armstrong. He was an amazing athlete and judging him doesn’t take that away.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Wait wait wait…
      We have like 10 topics going on in this one comment. To say “everyone cheats”, therefore it is normalized, and therefore it is ok, regardless of what the actual rules are. Heck, changes the rules to say doped riders are fine, and I’d love to see what they are capable of. The biggest idiot, the one who takes the most, wins. It’d be like flatliners, but for bike riders! hahahah.

      Or to bring it even further home, it’s like saying, all politicians do opposition research, and therefore it’s perfectly fine for Trump & co. to take opposition research from the Russians. Wait what? No, that is treasonous. And driving doped is horribly dangerous to riders and their health.

      One thing you did say that is 100% on target is that I am very angry still about the lie propagated, again and again and again by Lance. And yes, as a result, I’m angry that I fell for his lie. That I believed an our Cancer patient turned the corner and not only competed again, but fought valiantly to 7 race wins? Unbelievable. Just an unimaginably perfect story. He deserved to have non-profits started after him. He deserved the fame, and the accolades as a result. Until we realized it was a fraudulent story.

      I do think you bring up a good point with regard to Dan Ariely. I love his Ted Talk on our morally buggy code – https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code#t-294147. I adored his discussion about our identification with the individual that is cheating and how that impacts our desire to also cheat. And just because Lance cheated, with apparent impunity, the rest of his team thought it was ok as well? They identified with him, and therefore they thought it was ok.

      But my objection here is that it is against the rules and the norms of the game and competition. You and I compete at, what? Blog post commenting! Which, you are great at by the way. But what you don’t know is that I wrote a computer algorithm to do all mine. And therefore I claim the prize of 5 million dollars because my algorithm could go a lot faster than you. And I have actually participated in cheating contests. A group of us wrote algorithms to play bejeweled and to see who’s algorithm score the highest score in 60 seconds. That is fine, because we all knew what the rules were and what the conditions were. But if you joined our group, and played normally, while we all let our bots play for us? You would be justifiably outraged.

      Legalize doped cycling. I mean, heck, if everyone does it, just legalize it. But we won’t do that because it is the epitome of dangerous. Right?

      • Shelby

        I’d love it if it was legalized. The problem is that someone would then go overboard and die, and then it would become illegal/against the rules again. There is a documentary that talks about how steroids aren’t as dangerous as people think they are, and that it’s totally possible to do them safely. But there is a stigma against them, as with most drugs, mental illness, and other topics that are simply misunderstood.

        I know I’m in the minority of people who think it doesn’t matter if someone does steroids, and that’s fine, but Lance still trained hard and worked his ass off to become the greatest. Everyone acts like the steroids did 100% of the work and that’s not fair to those athletes. They aren’t magic. They are a drug. And to me, it’s like saying, “taking anti-depressants is cheating because you wouldn’t be happy without those drugs.” I personally see no problem with drugs if someone is using them safely, but I also understand it’s impossible to monitor that so making them illegal is “easier.” However…isn’t that cheating society out of something they want?

      • Taylor

        Hey Shelby,
        This new documentary might be interesting to us both. The beginning is about a guy taking performance enhancing drugs and seeing how he fared. And then it flips into an investigation on Russia… accidentally really. Heheh. But the first part discusses their legality and if they should probably be allowed?


  3. Taylor Holmes

    In 2006, Floyd Landis on stage 16 was it, completely hit the wall. He was just torched. Gone! He was done. And with it our hopes for an American win. It was over. Stage 16 just melted him.

    Stage 17? He just tore the field apart. It was one of the most amazing come from behind wins of all time in any sport ever. I was just absolutely baffled it was so amazing. It was super human. Go find tapes of those two stages. You’ll see.

    His getting busted for steroids made it all make sense. Yes. He’s an amazing athlete. And capable of so much more with one two than I’ve got in my whole body. But really? Drop drugs in the mix and now that moment is scratched out. Could it have been all him? Maybe. Was it all drugs? Dunno. Definitely ruined the race for me.

    To this day, I remember Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers pinch hitting in the World Series and hitting a home run to win the game. He had one at bat. Didn’t play in the field. And he was the MVP of the series. I tell that story (like I just did) with great regularity. Why? Because it was amazing. He couldn’t plant his foot. And yet, still hit a home run. (Here reminisce with me: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U157X0jy5iw)

    Seminal moments. But to find out that one guy hacked the competition and the other didn’t? I just feel bad for the poor schleps at the back of the field who follow the rules! Hahaha.

    I have no idea how bad it is. Yeah, maybe it’s 90% myth. No idea. I’m talking about the ruining of a legendary moment. And Lance had a million stories like Floyd’s. Every day he pulled his entire crew to the top of those mountains. And yet? Bah.

    So yes. Maybe it’s more about me being angry and selfishly wanting the wins back. Fine. I admit that.

    Did you listen to his podcast as the race ran this year? I have to say, he was amazing to listen to. And try as I might, I couldn’t stay angry with him while listening.


  4. L

    Taylor, the Bryan Fogel documentary is a good find. Stand out statement of Fogel in the article: “Drugs don’t suddenly make you Lance Armstrong. If you’re not at that level, you never will be. But they are spectacular in allowing the body to recover and compete better.”

    Shelby offers insight and viewpoint based on facts, logic. I agree with her and would love it, too, if performance drugs were legalized, yet also agree with her as to situations that may develop at first, but IMO would eventually cease.

    Tennis, like all sports, is rife with athletes usage of performance enhancing drugs. Why? Because a seemingly evolution-oriented situation is occurring; inherently highly skilled athletes are presenting with athletically powerful physiques. This is the cause of the dilemma; the effect is usage of performance enhancing drugs.

    A recent tennis player with comparable height, weight and skills ability to compete with the likes of the highly skilled Williams sister goddesses was restricted play due to findings of a drug from Latvia which many tennis players are curiously using. It is supposedly under investigation since its only known usage is related to cardial treatment.

    Every sport is subject to athletes trying to achieve peak performance for wins; however, it is more of their concern to recuperate more quickly via safe, moderated usage of performance enhancing drugs.


    • L

      According to the link you shared Taylor, Usain Bolt is the only athlete devoid of using sport-related drug enhancements. He won nine out of the twenty-nine races shown; however, those twenty other races became null and void due to winners usage of performance drugs.

      That chart is a sobering reality of the motivation, trust in allowing drug-related enhancements, and the overall rationalization athletes choose as the course needed to win these days. The chart also proves sport drug enhancements work and that Usain is a naturally mighty athlete.


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