Documentary filmmaker Bryan Fogel didn’t set out to expose one of the biggest scandals in sports history. But his film Icarus gave the world documented evidence of Russian state-sponsored doping, information that led to the International Olympic Committee banning the Russian Olympic team from competing in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.
Fogel joined The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio Wednesday to discuss the news that shook the sports world over the last 24 hours.
“I very much applaud the I.O.C’s decision, which was an unprecedented decision to ban the country from the Olympics Games,” Fogel said. “It’s never been done before for doping. There’s been boycotts, but this was a truly monumental decision and I applaud the I.O.C. for standing up to protect the integrity of the games.”
That integrity was under attack during the Winter Games in Sochi, when Icarus revealed the elaborate scheme the Russians used to cheat drug tests. Those tests didn’t just help the Russian team to a Olympic-best medal count, but also cheated clean athletes out of medals.
“On a personal level, I feel very sad for a lot of the clean athletes around the world that were cheated and robbed of their medals for decades,” Fogel said. “Understanding what that means to all these athletes all over the world, to have this reality that they competed against the Russians, that means that they were essentially being cheated.”
Russian cheating took place in more than just at the 2014 games. Fogel’s film follows his relationship with Dr. Grigory Rodchenko, the architect of the Sochi plan, who also helped Russian athletes evade drug tests for decades. Icarus lays out not just Fogel’s relationship with Rodchenko, but the decision to supply evidence to the I.O.C.
“There would be no banning of Russia from the Olympics had Icarus not happened,” Fogel said. “Had I not set out on this journey to explore the anti-doping system, meeting Grigory Rodchenko, and ultimately working with him through my incredible producing team on the film, to bring this story forward.”
Rodchenko is currently in protective custody, with Fogel believing his life is in danger if he’s ever found or returned to Russia. The filmmaker also knows that his work has also put his life at risk, something he tries not to think about moving forward.
“I try not to be because I believe that life is about making choices, and Grigory came to me about this story, and I made a choice that his truth was incredibly important to the world,” Fogel said. “I wanted to bring that truth forward, and I would always, say don’t kill the messenger. I hope I’m not in danger, but I certainly am not planning on going back to Russia anytime soon.”