A documentary focusing on the Russian doping scandal has premiered at the annual Sundance Film Festival. Entitled “Icarus”, the documentary is the product of American filmmaker Bryan Fogel who spent nearly two years documenting the scope of the alleged Russian doping programme.
The beginning of the film sees cycling enthusiast Fogel looking to tell a story in which he experimented with performance-enhancing drugs, stemming from his fascination with Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who was stripped of his titles after admitting to doping.
Keen to test how much of an upper hand performance-enhancing drugs provide riders, he seeks out American anti-doping scientist Don Catlin to help him dose up before an amateur race.
Catlin then refers Fogel to the then Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, who would go on to make allegations to the New York Times about a Russian doping operation at events including the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.
Rodchenkov alleged the Russian Sports Ministry “directed, controlled and oversaw” a “unique” method of sample manipulation during Sochi 2014, involving a sample-swapping method where they had been able to open and reseal tamper-proof bottles.
The film shows how Fogel helped the Russian flee to the US and then, when two of his former colleagues died “unexpectedly”, arranged for him to meet with reporters from the New York Times to tell his story.
“Once it became clear who Grigory really was, everything changed,” said producer, Dan Cogan. “All of a sudden we’re thinking ‘how do we keep this person — or even us — safe from the Russians?”
“I am hoping it will be distributed worldwide and be seen by tens of millions of people,” said Fogel. “It should be a real eye-opener for people.”