(director/writer: Bryan Fogel; screenwriters: Mark Monroe/Timothy Rode/Jon Bertain; cinematographers: Jake Swantko, Timothy Rode; editors: Jon Bertain, Kevin Klauber; music: Adam Peters; Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Bryan Fogel, Mark Monroe, Dan Cogan, David Fialkow, Jim Swartz; Netflix; 2017)
“Informative and eyeopening topical documentary on the Russian doping scandal in cycling that then stumbles onto an international Olympic scandal also involving the Russians.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The first directorial effort of Bryan Fogel (screenwriter of “Jewtopia”) is as co-writer with Mark Monroe, Timothy Rode and Jon Bertain of this informative and eyeopening topical documentary on the Russian doping scandal in cycling that then stumbles onto an international Olympic scandal also involving the Russians.
Fogel is an amateur bicyclist who attempts to test on himself through self-medicated injections the steroid used by Lance Armstrong to become a frequent winner of the Tour de France. Thankfully the film, by accident, goes off course to follow the trail of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the exposed director of Russia’s Anti-Doping Center, who under the cover of testing Russia’s Olympians for illegal usage, was actually tampering with steroid-infested urine samples. It turns out he’s the more interesting story. Dr. Rodchenkov was both the wrong-doer and whistle-blower of Russia’s wide-spread sports doping program. Just before the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, he confesses to The New York Times, forcing him to go into hiding alone with the help of Fogel. During this period Fogel had free access to Rodchenkov, and the complex doctor emerges as a tortured soul capable of both good and bad. The film leaves no doubt that Putin, the Russian leader, was behind the doping scandal.
It’s an enriching documentary, that could have been better edited. But it’s full of insights into the Russians and their practice of doping international sports events. As a result, the Russian Olympic Committee was suspended from participating at Pyeongchang in the 2018 Olympics, though some athletes were invited to compete as Olympic athletes from Russia.
REVIEWED ON 3/5/2018 GRADE: B