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tonight on "nightline" -- beautiful lie. we go inside the world of lance armstrong and the shocking lie that changed everything. >> i didn't live a lot of lies, i lived one big one. >> tonight deconstructing his deceit like never before and we are going for the ride. >> costly call. big hospital. big businesses. and millions of dollars at stake. tonight brian ross questions doctors who may be costing hundreds the money they say they deserve. "nightline" investigates. >> if you are thinking about losing weight for the holiday photo you send to all of your friends. consider a photo shop pro instead, it's free. >> announcer: keep it right here, america, "nightline" is
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good evening. it was a beautiful lie. and the liar was one of the most celebrated sports figures in the world. lance armstrong reached pinnacle of athletic achievement winning the tour de france year after year even after a battle with cancer. but when the lie unraveled so did life as he knew it. now the former american hero explains how it took over and spiraled out of control. here is abc's neil karlinsky. >> reporter: inside one of the most challenging sporting events on earth with access no outsider has had to lance armstrong at the time considered seven time winner of the tour de france. but what academy award winning
filmmaker and his studio didn't know, despite a year inside lance armstrong's normally private bubble, was that it was all a lie and they too were being played. >> a lot of people wonder why would lance talk to you? i think that particularly at the beginning there was a sense of invulnerability. the sense that nobody is ever going to discover my lie. come along for the ride. >> reporter: the ride ended up traversing armstrong's epic collapse leaving the producer with moments he never imagined capturing. >> i was certainly con fi didn't i would never be caught. >> reporter: armstrong explaining how it all began. his decision to cheat by using performance enhancing drugs. >> there was a group of us, primarily living in italy. we just said we have to play ball here or go home. >> reporter: were you pissed off you had to do it or you had to do what you had how to do to be able to compete?
>> the latter. yeah, maybe -- maybe i i would approach the decision differently today. at the time i didn't lose sleep over it. >> reporter: a slice of the new film "the armstrong lie" which die sects what has been called the biggest fraud in all of sport and explores how a lie became so all-consuming, armstrong would do almost anything to protect tip. >> i have never doped. >> i have never taken performance enhancing drugs. >> i have never tested positive. >> reporter: how do you rate lance as a liar or cover-up artist. >> he is at the tippy top. he is one of the very best. >> reporter: the armstrong lie is a film he never intended to make. he was directing a feel good story about armstrong's 2009 comeback. they finished it complete with narration by matt damon, but before they could release it, tonight on "nightline."
did lance cheat? "nightline" ran a tell-all with former teammate floyd landis who dropped a bomb. >> did you see lance armstrong receiving transfusions? >> yes. >> reporter: more than once? >> yes, multiple times. look atsome people have to tell their kids santa claus isn't real. i hate to be the guy to do it, but -- it's just not real. >> reporter: they put the film on the shelf and reshot a completely different story. >> it was lance's abuse of power that is really the more reprehensible thing. part of it was the way he went after people. part of it was the way he wrapped himself in the mantel of the cancer survivor. >> he first confessed to oprah. >> deid you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance? >> yes. >> in all seven of your tour de france victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood
dope? >> yes. >> reporter: armstrong talked to gibney hours later. >> living a lie. i didn't live a lot of lies. but i lived one big one. you know that's different. i guess. maybe it's not. >> for some reason when he went on oprah, it dropped like a thud. what do you think went wrong there? >> part of the problem was lance isn't used to coming clean. i think you saw that discomfort on oprah. and i think he himself realizes what a complete disaster it was. photos from behind the scenes with him show a fallen champion who has lost some of his swagger. still, armstrong trusted gibney from their earlier time together and for the first time agreed to explain some of his secrets including how he got away with using the blood booster epo. >> the life of epo is four hours. so, you need to back it out from
there and figure out, you know when you are in trouble. >> he passed every test because he does not take epo. yes, he will. >> my defense was that i have passed every control you have given me. that's true. the samples that were given were clean. >> reporter: lance's great tragedy was he couldn't see the difference. he couldn't see the borderline between where the sport ended and where real life began. >> much of armstrong's life today centers around trying to keep what he has left. three major lawsuits including a fraud case brought by the u.s. department of justice seek to strip him of more than $100 million. >> do you talk to him anymore? >> the last time i communicated with lance when i let him know the film was going to be called the armstrong lie. >> reporter: how did that go over? >> not so well. >> reporter: itch his reputation stands a chance at any redemption it will likely take a while. >> people don't like that truth as much as they like the beautiful lie. that's a hard thing for lance to
accept. because he found much more affection in telling the beautiful lie than the ugly truth. our thanks to neil karlinsky, who followed every twist and turn of the story. the armstrong lie opens in select cities november 8th. coming up next, brian ross confronts doctors who may be costing hundreds of coal miners the benefits they say they deserve. >> announcer: abc news "nightline" brought to you by mercedes-benz. assage. and more than your favorite scent infused into the cabin. it is a completely new era of innovation. and the highest expression of mercedes-benz. introducing the 2014 s-class. the best or nothing. introducing the 2014 s-class. help the gulf when we made recover and learn the gulf, bp from what happened so we could be a better, safer energy company.
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what do big hospitals and big mining companies have in common? in coal country hundred of miners who say their suffering from lung disease say they're not getting the financial support they're owed. and a year long abc news investigation shows some of the coal companies' most important allies in fighting the miners are prominent doctors from a world renowned hospital. abc's brian ross for "nightline" investigates. ♪ ♪ he has had more hard luck than most men could stand ♪ >> reporter: after years of working in america's coal mines, where hard lives are honored in soulful ballads. ♪ it took gary fox's death to finally prove what coal company doctors tried to deny about him. that as the his autopsy showed,
fox did have the deadly debilitating disease called black lung the result of breathing in coal dust that shrinks and scars the lungs. >> when you put a needle into a lung in one of these miners, what comes back out of the needle is black liquid. it's -- it's -- like something out of the x files. >> reporter: a story that begins in coal country with miners out of breath and out of luck. but ended up taking us to one of the nation's top hospitals with tough questions about big money and black lung. gary fox died at the age of 58. denied for ten years the $700 to $900 a month he would have been due under a special program for miners. had the coal company doctors, this one and this one found he had disabling black lung. but they did not. >> i have no comment. >> reporter: and gary fox is one of hundred of coal miners, men
like mack lester. men like steve day. some of the hundred of miners who a year-long joint investigation by abc news and the center for public integrity found have been quietly battling and losing against big coal companies and their prominent expensive doctors. >> a total national disgrace. the deck is stacked in theory and practice against coal miners, men and women and it is tragic. >> reporter: black lung remains the scourge of coal country. yet big coal companies have been able to avoid paying millions of dollars in black lung benefits to ailing miners thanks largely to their doctors says west virginia senator jay rockefeller. >> you can hardly do anything but cry with rage, with sadness. >> reporter: in the case of the late gary fox one of the first doctors the coal company asked to review his record, a long
specialist from pittsburgh, who stand out in appalachia in his red porsche. several judges described him as hostile to the black lung program and biased in his findings. the doctor's finding on gary fox, black lung not present. doctor, good morning. i am brian ross from abc news. been trying to get ahold of you to ask about your work with coal miners for the coal companies. >> i have no comment. >> reporter: when we caught up with the doctor, he told us he is not by yaiases and find blac lung 12% of the time meaning most of the time he does not. he refused to look at the autopsy report of gary fox that found black lung. this involves gary fox. yun take can you take a look at it? the most important ally to whom they have paid millions of dollars over the years is prestigious john hopkins hospital in baltimore. and in particular, the long-time head of the black lung unit at
hopkins, dr. paul wheeler who says it only takes him a quick look at x rays to spot most severe cases of black lung that automatically qualify for benefits. you can tellen ein a second or . >> how you tell your father different from your mother. >> reporter: for his work, the coal companies pay hopkins $750 for each x ray he reads for black lung. about ten times the amount miners typically pay their doctors. >> why are they paying you so much more? >> i think it has the to do with the name of the hospital. >> reporter: you've don't mind being the coal company's doctor. >> i can be myself, a dak tooctr a number of company not just coal. >> reporter: for the coal companies, money well spent. by no means does every miner who applies for benefits necessarily have black lung. of available record from the last 13 years, examined by abc
news and the center for public integrity, we found of 1,573 cases, dr. wheeler never found a single case of severe black lung in any coal miner not one. dr. wheeler ak nolcknowledged o findings. >> reporter: you stand by the cases? >> absolutely. that's my opinion. a perfect right to my opinion. >> reporter: you have become dr. no. you never find. >> i do find black lung. >> reporter: not according to what we have seen. not severe black lung that allows miners to collect benefits. hopkins says their doctors have confirmed thousand of cases compatible with black lung over the last 40 years but would not say how many were severe black lung. in court testimony, last year, dr. wheeler said that last time he recalled diagnosing a case of severe black lung was in the 1970s or early 80s. your reports and your testimony has led hundred of thousands of
miners to be denied benefits that they think they deserve. >> i have no idea what happens when the x rays leave my department. >> does it matter to you? >> it would matter to me that i am wrong. no one has proven i am wrong. >> reporter: our investigation found,000 thee h he has been wr on cases of miners where awe top sees found black lung after dr. wheel heard not. he read their x-rays as negative. what do you say? >> the doctor should not be working at hopkins university or anywhere else. i am very clels ose to hopkins. my wife is on the health part of the board of hopkins. and i think it is a disgrace. i am shocked to hear that. >> reporter: hopkins itself receives the money directly paid by the coal companies. in a written staement tement, j hopkins defendants dr. wheeler and says to our knowledge, no
regulatory authority has challenged or questioned diagnos diagnoses, conclusions or reports from the black lung program. ♪ black lung black lung ♪ ♪ but dr. wheeler's findings are disrupting lives all across coal country. steve day says he has been told he has a few more months to live. diagnosed with black lung by veterans administration and his own doctors. he can't be far from oxygen tanks and cannot sleep lying down. >> when he coughs, the black -- will still come up. and then tell me he don't have black lung? it would take a fool to believe it. >> reporter: yet in 2005, the coal company appealed and dr. wheeler at hopkins said day's x-rays did not show the disabling form of black lung. the company won. and day's $1,000 a month benefit
was canceled. >> well, at the time, if i had my hand around his neck i would have squeezed it. >> reporter: you think he is doing the work of the coal companies. >> yeah. a company doctor. >> reporter: we sent the ex-rays of to jack parker at west virginia university. he once oversaw the government's x-ray screening program for black lung. >> this is a classic case of black lung. >> any doubt in your mind? >> no doubt whatsoever. this represents advanced black lung disease. dr. wheeler found the x rays were tb or a fungal infection. >> so unlikely. the chance of other diseases is 0. >> reporter: 0 chance. >> 0 chance. >> reporter: for some body to make that diagnosis does that surprise you? >> it does surprise me. more, it disappoints me. >> reporter: would you say that diagnosis other than black lung
was intellectually dishonest? >> yes. >> reporter: intellectually dishonest? >> yes, sir. dr. wheeler says he is protecting the system from keeping miners from collecting black lung benefits from a disease they did not or do not have. >> that would seem to be inappropriate to me. >> they're getting paid for something they dent deserve. >> that they don't have. >> reporter: for miner steve day, he worries he will be out of breath before he can prove his case. and the suggestion that he and his family are somehow trying to cheat is just one final insult from a system that he says has left them feeling betrayed. >> my kids were cheated. my grandchild is cheated. he's cheated. and it's unfair. and -- if he doesn't have black lung, black lung never did exist for any body. ♪ ♪ and everyone with black lung done turn him away ♪
>> for "nightline," brian ross, abc news, in glen fork, west virginia. >> and our thanks to brian ross for that comprehensive and eye-opening report. we'll switch gears now, though, coming up next for us -- this high tech toddler gets suited up in a costume designed by his dad. the halloween high just begun. headache, flushing, upset stomach, and abnormal vision. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. stop taking viagra and call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. [ cellphone beeps ] this is the age of taking action. viagra. talk to your doctor. [ male announcer ] maybe you've already heard what they're saying about the nissan altima. ♪
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tonight on feed frenzy. halloween costume mania. fooled by photo shop. the air brushed fixes reveal in this video prove yet again seeing isn't always believing. especially on halloween. when the tricks are the treat. check out these created by former nasa engineer, mark robert, he designed an app to solve your costume problems, moving eyeballs, beating hearts, and grabable guts. bleh. and he found a way to make your house or car look around. you may have seen this neon