Moments after accepting the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award for “Icarus” — a film that began as an amateur cycling experiment before unearthing decades of performance-enhancing drug abuse by Russian athletes — director and co-producer Bryan Fogel called for the resignation of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
Fogel dedicated his trophy to his “Icarus” co-star Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who escaped Russia and is now enrolled in America’s witness protection program. Rodchenkov risked his life by blowing the whistle on the the state-sponsored conspiracy he engineered for the previous Winter Olympics as the former director of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory.
Swayed in part by evidence from Rodchenkov, in early December the IOC banned Russia from partaking in the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However, 169 Russian athletes were ultimately allowed to compete under the banner of “Olympic Athletes From Russia,” a coalition that won 17 medals.
“Plain and simple, Thomas Bach needs to resign,” said Fogel in the Oscar press room following his win. “He is a crook, and what he has shown to planet Earth and any athlete who believes in the Olympic ideal is to not trust it and to not trust those words. If you can corroborate and prove and substantiate a fraud on this caliber, on this level, that spanned for decades, and then essentially give that country that committed that fraud a slap on the wrist, allow 160 of their athletes to compete in those Games — two of them found doping — and then immediately after the Games are over, without that country ever accepting responsibility, apologizing for any of their actions, or accepting that any of this is truth while they continued to hunt Dr. Gregory Rodchenkov, and they lift the ban on that country? What a fraud. What a corrupt organization, and that man should be embarrassed and ashamed of himself. He needs to resign.”
“Icarus” premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Netflix picked up the film for $5 million; “Icarus” is now the streaming service’s first Oscar-winning feature.
Additional reporting by Kate Erbland.