Lance Armstrong has more than two faces. They all had cameos in the ESPN "30 for 30" documentary "Lance," which wrapped up Sunday night.
The "Can't lie my way out of this" face. The "This is my truth" face. The "I haven't forgotten" face. The "I did a lot of good" (i.e., his work in fighting cancer) face. The "Hard motherf—er" face.
To complicate things, they were all given the makeup of brutal honesty by the man wearing them.
The many facets of Armstrong's personality make it difficult to feel sympathy for him even when looks an interviewer in the eye, apologizes for being a horrible person and says he "needed" to fall from grace. The documentary's producers chose not to even try for sympathy; there was no narration, just the words of Armstrong, the people he loves and the people who threatened his double life.
The best way to display Armstrong's many sides here is to present what he said about his efforts to destroy people, including himself, during his decade-plus reign of terror over cycling.
Armstrong called O'Reilly, his former team soigneur (masseuse/assistant), a whore and a drunk in a deposition he gave for a libel lawsuit he brought against her and author David Walsh (later settled) in 2004. Armstrong was retaliating for O'Reilly, in Walsh's book, exposing doping in cycling and Armstrong's illegal activities early in his Tour de France dominance. He said in the "30 for 30" that it was probably the worst thing he did during the time he tried to keep people from taking him down.
"To call a woman a whore is just totally unacceptable. It's hard to be worse than that," he said.
Asked why he did it, he stumbled through his initial try and then blurted out: "Well, why did I do it? Because I was an idiot and in full attack mode; that's why, right? I would have said anything."
O'Reilly got her revenge when she went to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency with her allegations in 2012. She helped to get Armstrong banned from professional cycling for life.
Frankie and Betsy Andreu
Armstrong told the world how comfortable he was (is?) with lying when he was asked about his legal battles with the couple.
"Nobody dopes and is honest. You're not. The only way you can dope and be honest is if nobody ever asks you, which is not realistic. The second somebody asks you, you lie," he said.
"Now, it might be one lie because you answer it once, or in my case it might be 10,000 lies because you answer it 10,000 times. And then you take it a step further and you reinforce it and then 'F— you, don't ever f—ing ask me that question again,' right? And then you go sue someone and then it's . . . So that's why it was 100 times worse. 'Cause we all lie."
Yet, Armstrong still couldn't say whether the Andreus were truthful when they testified in an arbitration hearing that he admitted to doping in 1996 when he was being treated for cancer at Indiana University.
"If it makes everybody happy that I say it happened, I'm happy to say it happened, but I'm also going to be honest with you and say I don't recall it happening," he said.
Armstrong has not forgiven Landis for being a rat in retaliation for being kept out of cycling after serving his own doping suspension following a Tour de France victory. Two years after Landis spilled the beans in 2010, Armstrong had lost his reputation, his Tour championships and millions of dollars in endorsement money.
He showed the bitterness when he was asked about moving from Texas for snowy Colorado, where he lives with his fiancee and their children: "Could be worse. I could be Floyd Landis, waking up a piece of s— every day."
"It could be worse ... I could be Floyd Landis."— 30 for 30 (@30for30) June 1, 2020
—Lance Armstrong pic.twitter.com/tV9qM6MroY
The documentary later showed footage of Armstrong answering a question about Landis during a Q&A at a corporate function.
"There'll never be a relationship. Never," he said. "Most people in this story, I'm fine to just forgive and forget and let's move on. There are a few that I'm not there yet. Floyd's one of them. You can't . . . it's just not forgivable."
Enemy to those who threatened his charade. Enemy to himself. A lightning round of how he assesses the damage:
On his unsuccessful fight against USADA:
"I wouldn't change a thing. . . . I needed a f—ing nuclear meltdown, and I got it."
On how he could look himself in the mirror despite being a pathological liar:
"I was so used to it. It was part of the game and you kind of just become immune to that. It's crazy to hear myself say that, but it's the truth."
On knowing how wrong he was:
"Totally inappropriate behavior. . . . Totally took advantage of my stature. For that, I'm deeply sorry. I wish I could change that. I wish I could have been a better man. All I can do is say I'm sorry and move on and hope that others do, too."
On whether he's at peace:
"So that means all that gets to, 'How do you sleep at night?' Right? 'Can you live with yourself?' And I can."
Landis and other former teammates took their shots at Armstrong, but they didn't have clean hands, either. They all doped in a sport that required it. They delivered an unsympathetic retelling of the whole sordid affair with the grimness of an uphill stage.
And Armstrong was the face — faces — of the peloton.