Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2017. Alex Productions, Diamond Docs, Impact Partners, The Lagralane Group, Rise Films. Screenplay by Jon Bertain, Bryan Fogel, Mark Monroe, Timothy Rode. Cinematography by Jake Swantko, Timothy Rode. Produced by Dan Cogan, David Fialkow, Bryan Fogel, Jim Swartz, Tessa Treadway. Music by Adam Peters. Production Design by Jon Bertain. Film Editing by Jon Bertain, Kevin Klauber, Timothy Rode. Academy Awards 2017.
Filmmaker and cycling enthuasiast Bryan Fogel witnessed the Lance Armstrong doping scandal along with the rest of the world and, while he was appalled by the revelations of widespread corruption among the Tour De France’s best athletes, it also ignited his curiousity about the effectiveness of doping itself. Filming this exploration, Fogel enters an amateur cycling contest a second time after having done it clean the year before; after meeting the head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, he does his second round in the competition with the help of a daily regimen of illegal performance enhancing substances, all done under Rodchenkov’s supervision. Rodchenkov shows Fogel how to dope without getting caught, the results revealing some surprising truths about the effectiveness of the drugs as well as some less surprising facts about the effectiveness of drug screenings. The story then takes a crazy twist (to say the least) when media reports about Russia’s state-sponsored doping program go viral, the doctor turns whistleblower and the implications reach the Olympic Committee. The personal moments between Fogel and Rodchenkov anchor a fascinating story of global intrigue that gets more complicated and fascinating at every turn, one that is remarkably compelling even if you were there to follow the entire matter on the news.