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Icarus

Director:  Bryan Fogel
Year Released:  2017
Rating:  3.0

Intriguing sports documentary in two parts: section one has director Fogel using steroids, aided by Russian chemist Grigory Rodchenkov, to see if he can cheat at a brutal French cycling race and win (he doesn't) while part two shows Rodchenkov's role in falsifying the urine samples of his country's athletes. While the two pieces are somewhat awkwardly put together (there's definitely some 'narrative manipulation' going on - there are simply too many coincidences) it comes out in the end as a chilling think piece about the validity of Olympic medals and awards and the ultimate worth of sporting events if there's rampant cheating going on (I always wondered how those Red Army hockey teams were so dominant). It misses the chance to explore the implications of Fogel's doping and how he failed to succeed using the injections - perhaps some athletes, like Lance Armstrong or Alex Rodriguez, truly were great and didn't actually really need to 'juice' (even though they did) - but the Rodchenkov defection (and eventual placement in witness protection) is riveting in its own right. Czar Putin's kingdom truly is a ghastly place.

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