This weekend, Netflix debuted the documentary, “Icarus”. For those who haven’t yet heard of this accidental expose, it began as a sort of “Super-Size Me” meets cycling PEDs. Bryan Fogel was an amateur cyclist who was also an aspiring filmamaker and stand-up comic. He finished 14th one year in the French “citizen stage race” Haute Route. He felt the top top were all obvious dopers, and he wanted to see if he could gain a similar edge, so he began a film project to not only document his experimentation with PEDs (HGH, EPO, testosterone), but also successfully hide his use from any doping controls. This led him to a colorful Russian named Grigory Rodchenko, a former athlete himself who was the Director of the Moscow anti-doping lab, and the lab for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Rodchenko cheerfully guides Fogel through the doping protocol, and the subsequent measures needed to hide that doping from discovery. The first 30 minutes of the documentary are funny in the sad way that doping in sports can be absurdist. Ironically, Fogel’s next attempt at the Haute Route places him 27th.
But what follows is anything but amusing. Both a character study of Rodchenko, and and behind-the-scenes look at the explosive New York Times revelation of the Sochi games doping cover-up and WADA report on the Russian program, the film graphically reveals both the scope and mortal risks surrounding doping in big-time sports.