Revisiting director Bryan Fogel on ‘Icarus’

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As the Netflix documentary ‘Icarus’ begins, it looks like director Bryan Fogel will also be its subject.

Fogel is an amateur cyclist who decided to undergo a doping regimen to see if he, like Lance Armstrong, could improve his performance in races, all while avoiding detection.

For help in this quest, he found a willing accomplice in Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a Moscow-based chemist who ran the largest anti-doping laboratory in Russia.

The two first connected over Skype, and then met face to face several times, forming a close friendship.

Things soon became much more serious than either Fogel or Rodchenkov anticipated. After Fogel’s experiment was well underway, it was revealed in the media that Rodchenkov was the architect of Russia’s massive Olympic doping program, giving scores of athletes a regimen and making sure they tested clean. Once exposed in an investigation, Rodchenkov knew he was in the crosshairs of Russian authorities.

It fell to Fogel to help him flee Russia, almost certainly saving his life. Throughout all of this, the camera kept rolling.

Fogel tells us about taking extreme precautions while working on ‘Icarus’, and explains why all the unanticipated twists of the story meant that a $5 million sale at Sundance didn’t come close to covering the cost of making the film.

Since the film has been released, Rodchenkov’s testimony led to the International Olympic Committee banning Russia from February’s winter games. Fogel said this is almost certainly because of the revelations in ‘Icarus.’

Rodchenkov meanwhile, continues to live in the U.S. under federal protection. Since Icarus has been released, Putin has issued a warrant for Rodchenkov’s arrest and alleged that the United States has been drugging the chemist.




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker