×

Lance Armstrong on Russian Doping Documentary ‘Icarus’: ‘I Can Relate’

Lance Armstrong can relate to Russia.

Sort of.

The fallen cyclist, who was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life in 2012 as a result of long-term doping offenses, was at New York’s 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday to support Neftlix’s doping documentary, “Icarus.” After a screening of the Academy Award shortlisted doc, which Netflix bought last year at the Sundance Film Festival for $5 million, Armstrong sat on a panel with director Bryan Fogel, producer Dan Cogan, and moderator Philip Gourevitch.

Icarus” follows Fogel as he looks at the benefits and effects of using performance-enhancing drugs while competing in an amateur cycling race. The director stumbled into an international scandal when his research connected him with Grigory Rodchenkov, a key figure in Russia’s state-sponsored doping program in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Ultimately, Rodchenkov became a whistleblower, working with the New York Times to pull back the curtain on doping. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently banned certain Russian athletes from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea following its probe into an elaborate doping scheme involving those athletes.

Armstrong explained that getting ratted out in such a public way, as Russia has, is something he knows a thing or two about.

“I can relate to the way [it feels when] the press reacts to things like this and they way there needs to be that story,” Armstrong said. “My situation five years ago, when [my doping use] came out, the organizations — USADA (The United States Anti-Doping Agency), WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) — I’m not trying to criticize them, but the declarations [they made] were pretty strong: ‘He’s biggest fraud in the history of sport’; ‘The most sophisticated doping program that ever existed’ ; and ‘Forcing young men to put deadly substances into their bodies.’ We don’t need to debate whether or not those statements are true, but those are strong statements. But underneath all of that you have a system that really doesn’t work that well.”

The cyclist went on to say that he was in “shock” after reading a 2016 Times story about how the Russians conspired to evade doping rules. (Fogel helped arrange for Rodchenkov to meet with Times reporters for that story.)

“I knew what was going to happen [after that],” Armstrong said. “The next day, WADA stands up and they get a commission of guys to investigate. Then nine months later they had that press conference where it’s like, ‘We’ve got ’em!’ So not to condone or sympathize with [Russia], but I can relate. I certainly can relate to them.”

“So it’s like when you’re looking at Russia, you’re looking at yourself,” Gourevitch asked.

“Uh,” Armstrong said before dodging the question. “I’m just glad to be here.”

Armstrong then called on Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to stand up to Russia.

“Grigory Rodchenkov is the most wanted man in Russia and if you are Thomas Bach and Vladimir Putin is your buddy — and it certainly appears that [they are] – Bach can say, ‘If Grigory dies, you are never coming back (to the Olympics).’ But Bach won’t say that to the Russians. But if Grigory does die, Thomas Bach has questions to answer.”

At the end of the 40-minute discussion, Armstrong reminded the audience the Russian cyclists he teamed with are “good guys. Good people.”

When asked if they doped like he did, Armstrong laughed and said, “You’d have to ask them.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Love is the Monster

    Neto Villalobos’ ‘Love is the Monster’ Heads to San Sebastian Co-Pro Forum (EXCLUSIVE)

    Costa Rican director Ernesto “Neto” Villalobos’ third feature, “Love is the Monster,” will participate in September’s San Sebastian Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum. Having found festival success with his first two features, “All About the Feathers” and “Helmet Heads,” both drama-comedies, Villalobos will head in a different direction with “Love is the Monster,” a psychological thriller [...]

  • Pinewood Atlanta Studios

    Pinewood Group to Exit Atlanta Studios Joint Venture

    The Pinewood Group is pulling out of its Atlanta facility as it refocuses its international strategy. The group announced Wednesday that it has sold its equity in Pinewood Atlanta Studios to River’s Rock, its joint venture partner in the facility. The joint venture was set up in 2013 with Pinewood Atlanta Studios now the second [...]

  • El Principe

    Storyboard Swoops on Seven Titles for 2020 Chilean Distribution (EXCLUSIVE)

    Key Chilean independent production-distribution company Storyboard Media has announced a knock-your-socks-off slate of seven domestic features, in varying degrees of completion, to be released in Chile across 2020. Bound for Venice’s Critics’ Week, Sebastián Muñoz’s “The Prince” was a hit at last year’s works in progress section at the San Sebastian Film Festival and will [...]

  • Tigerlily

    Banijay Rights Signs First Look Deal with Tigerlily Prods.

    Seeking to expand its scripted offering, Banijay Rights has signed a first look development deal with Tigerlily Productions, a U.K. production company whose credits include David Farr’s “The Ones Below” and “Remainder” with Tom Sturridge. The deal covers scripted programming developed, created and produced by Tigerlily for the U.K. and international markets. Tigerlily Productions, which [...]

  • Blanco-en-Blanco

    Stray Dogs Picks Up Int’l Sales Rights to Venice-bound ‘Blanco en Blanco’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile – In the run-up to the upcoming 76th Venice Int’l Film Festival, Paris-based Stray Dogs has closed international sales rights on Chilean drama “Blanco en Blanco,” which holds its world premiere in the festival’s Horizons sidebar. Filmed last year in the frigid tundra of Chile’s Tierra de Fuego and Spain’s tropical Canary Islands, [...]

  • Gerard Butler Angel Has Fallen

    Film Review: 'Angel Has Fallen'

    “Angel Has Fallen” marks the third time that Gerard Butler, as the Secret Service agent and scowling samurai cowboy Mike Banning, has had to rescue the President of the United States from an international conspiracy so cuckoo bananas that the movie barely expects you to believe it. (Actually, in the six years since this series [...]

  • Jessica

    Ninja Thyberg's Female POV Porn Industry Portrait Seduces Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Paris-based Versatile has announced a raft of pre-sales on Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature “Jessica,” set in the adult entertainment industry in L.A. World distributors that have pre-bought the Swedish drama take in Weltkino for Germany/Austria, Xenix for Switzerland, MK2/Mile End for Canada, KTH for South Korea and Movie Could for Taïwan. Several [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content