The rough road to ‘Armstrong Lie’

November 7, 2013 • Entertainment

FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2013 file photo, director Alex Gibney attends the press conference for “The Armstrong Lie” on day 5 of the Toronto International Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, in Toronto. Though Armstrong has no plans to see the film — he sent his representatives instead, confirms Gibney — Armstrong will get a kickback from the film’s proceeds. “When the original deal was made with Sony, Lance had a financial participation,” said Gibney. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — When Alex Gibney set out to make a movie about cyclist Lance Armstrong’s 2009 Tour de France comeback, the documentarian admits he bought into the hype: The man who’d cheated death was coming back to reign supreme — and clean.

“All of us fans wanted to believe,” said Gibney, who directed this summer’s well-received documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.” ”You want to root for people. That is what sports are all about.”

In fact, it was such a positive project, Armstrong himself had a “financial participation” in the film, Gibney said.

Then in 2011, things changed. The “feel-good movie,” as Gibney called the original version, was nearly finished when Armstrong’s ex-teammates, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, began going public about Armstrong’s doping.

That same year, Armstrong faced a U.S. government investigation into doping allegations. Then in 2012, a federal Anti-Doping Agency report alleged Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service-sponsored team used performance-enhancing drugs.

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