Icarus is the latest Netflix-branded documentary to be released. As far as documentaries go Icarus puts on a good show as it starts as one thing but then changes, quite significantly, into something far deeper and further reaching.
Bryan Fogel is a keen amateur cyclist and has taken part in one of the hardest amateur races, Haute Route. After finishing a respectable 14th he intends to do better, but the gap between himself and those in the top ten was considerable. And then the plan comes to him: to dope himself and see if he too can confound the drug testers and their technology. After getting in touch with a US based scientist Bryan is set down a path which leads to much greater things, just not how he expects!
After the US scientist pulls out, stating potential damage to his reputation, Bryan is given the contact details of Gregory Rodchenkov as his new science teacher. This Russian scientist and eccentric personality quite openly tells and shows Bryan all what must be done in order to cheat the drug testing system. However, what follows is an uncovering of one of the biggest conspiracies in sporting history.
Whilst the reporting is of a decent standard you and the story that you are watching is compelling, you can’t help but feel that Bryan is way over his head with the scope of this investigation. He is out of his league and it shows in the way that the documentary unfolds, there isn’t much build up to a reveal but more like a blurting out of the revelations, trying to wash their hands of the information and pass the responsibility onto someone else.
It can’t be stated that the topic isn’t a huge deal in world sport but this feels a little bit amateur in comparison to some of the excellent documentaries that have been made recently. It is definitely worth a watch just for the scope of the revelation that has come out of this investigation.