Archive for January, 2018


When I began watching the Oscar-nominated documentary Icarus earlier this month, I did not expect what I would watch unfold over the next hours. Perhaps the same can be said for amateur bicyclist Bryan Fogel who is a primary subject and director of the film:

Fogel, who has an ambition of riding at Lance Armstrong-level speeds, originally intends to document steroid abuse in sports, specifically by using himself to participate in a rigorous steroid-filled training program leading up to the premiere amateur bicyclist race, the Haute Route, in 2015. While Fogel’s training program proves to be an all-to revealing snapshot of just how easy it is to take steroids and test substance-free on race day, the Russian doctor who guides him along the way, Grigory Rodchenkov, quickly becomes the focus of attention.

In a sequence of candid tell-all interviews, Rodchenkov reveals how the doping strategy he prescribed for Fogel’s amateur bike race is nearly identical to the strategy he prescribed for hundreds of Russian Olympic athletes during the Sochi Winter Olympics. These stories, which are eerily interwoven between Orwellian platitudes, describe the unethical behavior you’ve heard about, but a normal person would just hope for it to not be even remotely true. However, the caged bird must sing, and as you can imagine, a worldwide outrage ensues (which is captured in the film). Finally, Rodchenkov flees Russia in order to protect his life with the assistance of U.S. witness protection services.

With the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics about to be thrust into the international spotlight in just a few days, I found this documentary to be a visceral reminder of what some people believe to be just another part of the will to win: the world of cheating. By the end, however, it is clear that the will to win at all costs is rarely acceptable price to pay for any endeavor in life.

Give Icarus two hours of your attention. I think you will be shocked at what you see.


01 2018