When Bryan Fogel set out to make his documentary “Icarus,” he already had a ready-made gimmick that sounded like the next great step in “Super Size Me”-style filmmaking: in order to understand how professional athletes dope and still avoid detection, he’d try it out for himself. Fogel, a comedian and amateur bike racer, cooked up a plan to dope himself, see how it altered his athletic performance, and then see if he could avoid detection when it came to drug testing.
It was a buzzy, compelling idea. And then it got even crazier.
Fogel soon hooked up with “renegade Russian scientist” Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who would guide him through the process of avoiding detection, and the pair bonded over hours and hours spent discussing and cracking Fogel’s crazy plan. Dr. Rodchenkov, it seemed, knew much more than he was letting on, and his experience leading anti-doping programs for his home country, well, they just might have been the opposite.
Suddenly, Fogel’s attempt to analyze doping on a small, personal scale became something much bigger — big enough to bring down Russian sports and maybe even kill his new friend.
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“We were sitting on a nuclear bomb,” Fogel told IndieWire earlier this year. “The only people who had this information were me and Grigory. It was scary when I understood how big it was, and what it could mean in terms of changing Olympic history. It was fraud on an international level that made [Lance] Armstrong look like a needle. And I had Grigory’s life in my hands.”
The film won the inaugural “Orwell” award at this year’s Sundance and the Audience Award at Sundance London.
Check out our exclusive trailer for “Icarus” below. The film is now streaming on Netflix.