ICARUS film review: “Awesome!”

Commentary by Steven V. Selthoffer.

The ground-breaking and enormously successful film ICARUS, directed and written by Bryan Fogel, does more to promote clean sports and fair play in one two-hour documentary than the entire International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency could ever do in 100 years.

The film punctuated with series after series of unexpected twists and turns will not only leave you breathless at points, but, without a breath through much of it. You are held in suspense as the drama of unfolding global news events and emerging international intrigues explode on the screen as news organizations rush to cover the unfolding cataclysmic Russian doping scandals.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, Fogel’s advisor, Grigory Rodchenkov, slowly opens up and confesses about the secrets of the Russian doping programs going back to the 1960’s. Because of his dual role as an anti-doping director and a doping facilitator, he then must defect to the USA under threats for his life after his two Russian colleagues die unexpectedly of heart attacks within eight days of each other. Rodchenkov was next on the staff organization chart.

It’s clear, the more you know about Olympic sports, the more you will like it.

Fogel started the film with the correct premise, setting out to expose what is genuinely wrong with the current anti-doping system by “doping” himself, placing himself on a doping program (monitored first by an American doctor and secondly by Russian anti-doping director Grigory Rodchenkov) similar to what other cyclists had used, but alerted the anti-doping authorities in advance of what he was doing in order to see if the anti-doping system could catch him.

Fogel a self-effacing world-class cyclist, downplays his own personal athletic accomplishments, playing an “amateur” cyclist in the film. He enters a few cycling races and shows without filters, the dirty and sordid world of doping, demonstrating his own displeasure with the constant syringe injections in his rear, daily urine collection and storage and the lengthy and time consuming effort it takes to take urine samples, record them on what days, match and coordinate all of that with the ingestion of other performance enhancing drugs, then store them all and secretly transport them to the Russian lab so as not to be detected by international authorities.

“ICARUS” brilliantly discourages doping

Watching Fogel struggle through his own doping program would discourage most anyone from ever wanting to cheat in sports. While knowing all the time, that doctors, scientists and lawyers are constantly working to develop new tests to defeat you. It’s the whole world against you- a doped athlete. It graphically and sublimely convinces anyone with an IQ over 2 that doping is no fun. It’s not worth it.

Fogel’s documentary comes off the back of the outstanding efforts made by Jens Weinreich and Hajo Seppelt to expose corruption in anti-doping and at the highest levels in sports. Weinreich has worked for years exposing the corruption within the IOC and its relationships with Russian leadership, Middle East sheiks, FIFA, and other international sport federations. Weinreich is considered the “go-to” global authority on IOC-Russian-Middle East corruption.

Seppelt’s two documentaries kicked off the Independent Panel investigation chaired by former WADA president Dick Pound investigating the Stepanova’s video evidence starting the Russian scandal that was the subject of the IP press conferences noted in the film.

Russians need to know the truth

What the Russian sport and government ministers need to know is that: it is THEIR athletes and THEIR coaches who sent whistleblower information to WADA, the IOC and other organizations for years.

The exposure was not done by the CIA, Bush, Obama, Trump, MI-5 or any other organization set out to embarrass Russia. No. It was the Russian athletes themselves who didn’t want to be part of a corrupt system. Russian parents and others don’t want to have their talented children extorted, or have to pay bribes or to become doped zombies in order to go to the Olympic Games. Russian athletes WANT fair play and have turned to independent journalists and sport governing authorities to get their stories out.


Fogel’s masterpiece reveals that WADA and the IOC have lied to the athletes and the world at large for years misrepresenting the state of anti-doping. Fogel clearly illustrates that there never was an anti-doping program in Russia. It was a farce. It was WADA who was approving Russia’s anti-doping lab and system as being Code “compliant” since WADA’s existence. And it was the IOC that was in charge of the lab in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Not only that, but they went after anyone with a vengeance who dared to criticize or point out problems in the anti-doping system.

Nobody has done it better than Fogel, masterfully bringing the revelations to light about corruption in Olympic sports, anti-doping and Russia.

No quick fix

The IOC in their deliberations should think twice before coming to any quick-fix conclusion. Others are now focusing on who exported the Russian doping programs to other Eastern European countries, when and how. People are talking…

“ICARUS”- is a must watch for all athletes and anyone with an interest in Olympic sports. It will educate you faster than any USADA seminar ever could. And Fogel? He is a profile in courage and deserves every award he ever gets.

Athletes all over the world owe a great debt of gratitude to Fogel and his financial backers for demonstrating great courage and tenacity to state the whole truth to a candid world. USADA and the USOC should make it mandatory viewing for any new athletes coming into the anti-doping testing pool on any national teams.

Watch “ICARUS.” It blows any ratings off the charts.

Click here to read the full review.

Steven V. Selthoffer is an Amerian communications executive living in Germany. He swam for U.S. Olympic coach Dr. James E. Counsilman, Indiana University. Selthoffer also has a background in relief aid, security and international relations. All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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