I know I am late to the party with this documentary but after hearing so much about it I thought it was time to give it a try. Especially with Russia being banned from the winter Olympic by the I.O.C. and topic being so hot right now. I thought Bryan Fogel’s original idea was interesting (to test how easy it was to pass the anti-doping tests as Lance Armstrong did) but I had no idea of how deep the documentary goes. After about forty minutes you’re completely consumed by the process and also confused as to why Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov is helping Bryan to such a serious extent. Maybe Dr. Rodchenkov couldn’t help himself, or wanted to prove how bulletproof his system is. You forget this entire question ten minutes later once you realize that Bryan has created a direct channel to an integral cog in the cheating wheel. This connection will be able to unravel the cloud of mystery behind Russia’s anti-doping program and the highly recognized labs. Once they started to communicate more often they became great friends and ended up setting the stage to expose the greatest doping scandal of all time.
It was incredible to see what Russia did to cheat and cover themselves up. It was a statewide system that was proven to be true and in place from the top. Watching the documentary from Bryan’s perspective and situation gives you a great idea of how deep the cheating went. Grigory was worried for his life and fled to the United States. Left his work, family and life behind to make sure he survived. After seeing what happened to his friend (supposedly having a heart attack while Russia was under trial and heat) it was easy to understand his aggressiveness to leave. Grigory clearly thought his friend was murdered and it is easy for us to believe it with what we know Russia and those top officials are capable of.
What the KGB, Dr. Grigory, and the rest of his team did to cheat was actually incredible. They used world level testing and machinery at their state of the art lab to know exactly how to keep athletes from showing positive through testing. Knowing timetables for testing windows, blood samples and testosterone levels they set programs for athletes to train harder and longer than anyone. They also recovered faster. Bryan reported early in the documentary that he had seen an increase of 20% in his power after doping and was recovering at a faster rate as well. Absolutely incredible that he was able to test positive due to the system and program Rodchenkov had set up. They were ahead of any lab in the word and knew how to tamper with both sets of samples in the Olympic village late at night to ensure that all athletes on the program were getting their old, clean piss tested. Absolutely incredible to which the extent of what they knew and what they did to blow up in the medal count.
Dr. Grigory risked his life to expose the entire system and how high it goes up. The most shocking thing is all the data he could provide to backup who was cheating. They couldn’t even give a date to how far back it went. They said that at least 50% of Russian athletes were cheating to win in the Olympics and trials over the past decade. This documentary shined a light on the biggest scandal in sports and give us an insiders perspective on how serious the Russians take their research to cheat. It feels amazing that Americans who haven’t cheated before or aren’t part of that system find ways to win cleanly.
As a documentary, it does a fantastic job of showing the overall plot but also the people that work within it. Bryan and his crew did a great job visualizing the program and providing details from Dr. Rodchenkov in a way any viewer could understand. And for that reason I put this documentary up there with the best of them.
Overall Rating: 9/10