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Film / The Program (2015)

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I used to believe in this sport and Armstrong is killing it!
David Walsh

The Program is a 2015 sports drama film directed by Stephen Frears and starring Ben Foster, Chris O'Dowd, Guillame Calumet, Jesse Plemons, Lee Pace, and Dustin Hoffman. The screenplay by John Hodge was largely based on the book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh.

The film follows the rise of cyclist Lance Armstrong from his battle with testicular cancer to his seven-year run as champion of the Tour de France. However, David Walsh, chief sports writer for The Sunday Times, starts to become suspicious of Armstrong’s streak and starts to investigate, leading to one of the biggest doping scandals in sports history.


Provides examples of:

  • Blood from the Mouth: Lance vomits blood while showering, prompting him to see a doctor and getting a cancer diagnosis.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: The epilogue details that Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis both had their Tour victories rescinded due to doping.
  • The Determinator:
    • Lance Armstrong won't let any obstacles stand in his way in his pursuit of victory on the Tour de France.
    • David Walsh, likewise, won't let any intimidation tactics stop him from exposing the truth about Lance Amrstrong and doping in professional cycling.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Floyd Landis starts getting treated badly by Lance, Johan Bruyneel, and the team in general. He takes it because he needs them and their protection to continue cycling, but eventually has enough and confesses to doping, implicating Lance in the process.
  • Do Wrong, Right:
    • The film shows that cyclists have to time their doping precisely to minimize the possibility that medications will show up in post-stage drug tests.
    • When Floyd Landis decides to see how many cappuccinos he can knock back while waiting for Lance, Armstrong says he doesn't mind the excessive caffeine consumption but that Landis should avoid cream because it will make him fat.
  • Foil: Floyd Landis is presented as a near polar-opposite to Lance Armstrong outside of their shared profession.
    • Armstrong is an atheistnote , grew up with an abusive stepfather, and is a slick media personality who can lie easily.
    • Landis comes from a Mennonite community, had loving and supportive parents, is awkward in the limelight, and a terrible liar.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Hey, did you know Lance Armstrong was doping?
  • Intrepid Reporter: David Walsh continues to pursue the doping story even as his editor tries to dissuade him, Lance sues him and the Sunday Times for libel, and starts applying pressure to make other reporters ostracize him.
  • Kick the Dog: Lance Armstrong has a habit of humiliating those he dislikes and turning those people into pariahs.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Lance puts off an appointment to visit a rather sick boy in the hospital, and makes him smile.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: With his Live Strong charity and his status as a cancer survivor, no wonder people are slow to believe that Armstrong was juicing.

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