It’s hard to imagine that any but the most schadenfreude-addicted followers of sports and sportsmanship would really need the two hours of close examination given to cyclist Lance Armstrong in the documentary “The Armstrong Lie,” in which he is shown before, during and after his years of doping as a multiple Tour de France winner (now disgraced former winner, with an asterisk). Wasn’t Armstrong’s two-part television mea culpa with Oprah Winfrey enough?
Apparently not for filmmaker Alex Gibney (“We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks”). Gibney started making a film about Armstrong in the months before the cyclist’s 2009 comeback, after “retiring” from the sport. An admitted fan, Gibney put the project aside after the drumbeat of revelations about Armstrong’s use of banned substances became too loud to ignore. Once Armstrong publicly admitted that he had regularly used banned performance-enhancing drugs, Gibney took up the project again, believing that his subject owed him — and, presumably, us — an explanation, as Gibney says by way of introduction to the meticulous and, to a certain degree, repetitive film.