How Filmmaker Bryan Fogel Uncovered Russia's Doping Program


3 years ago



Bryan Fogel

2 appearances

Filmmaker Bryan Fogel's "Icarus" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2018. His newest documentary, "The Dissident", is an investigation of the death of Saudi Arabian "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi, murdered at the hands of his own government. "The Dissident" is now available On Demand and in theaters.


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In your documentary, you did a race. You tried to do an Icarus, which is an amazing documentary, if you haven't seen it. I recommend it highly. You did a race clean, and then you were going to do a race all juiced up. And you went to him, and he was the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Federation. Is that what it is? Yeah, so Gregory Rachankov, basically the premise was, is I felt that the entire doping system in sport was a fraud. And the reason why I had this belief was, is I had followed Lance Armstrong my whole life. The guy confesses in 2013, but if you had actually followed that story, it's kind of like what you're saying about, you know, Russia's banned from the Olympics, but they're not really banned, and they just can't wear their outfit. Well, in the case of Lance, well, yeah, he confessed to doping, but the guy to this day never was actually caught. And here's this guy who passed like, I don't know, five, six hundred tests. So as he confesses, and I'd been a cycling fan, a lifelong cyclist, I'm going, wait, wait, wait. You caught the guy based on a criminal investigation, but you didn't catch him based on the science. And if you can't test the most, and if you can't catch the most tested athlete on planet Earth, well, what does this mean for every other athlete on planet Earth? And so the idea was, is I was going to do like a super size me in the world of sport. I was going to race clean, and then the next year I was going to dope the hell out of myself, take testosterone, HGH, EPO, I mean, HCG. I was up to do anything. I mean, I was literally like injecting myself with like, yeah, it was like 10 syringes a day. It was just so stupid. And then literally like I'm going to get in blood tests to like build my biological passport, to like test my hematocrit. So like every other week, I'm literally going to get my blood drawn. I'm pissing to like, you know, build like my whole steroid profile to basically try to evade testing. So I get connected to this guy, Gregory Ruchankov, and at the time he's running Rusada, which is the, I'm sorry, the WADA lab, the World Anti-Doping Lab for Moscow, which is like the third largest, you know, anti-doping lab in the world at the time. This is now 2014, 2015, and Gregory basically is like, yes, I'll help you dope, and I'll help you evade testing, and I'll basically show you how you can game the system. And I'm like, this is nuts. Like the guy who just did all the testing for the Sochi Olympics and is running the entire anti-doping lab in Russia is basically going to like test my samples and show me how to cheat. Like what's going on here? So the two of us start working. He comes to the United States. He comes to Los Angeles. We have a great time. I then go do this next race completely doped out of my mind, and I'm like taking blood samples. I'm taking urine, and right after this race, I hop on a plane. I go to Moscow, and I'm like hanging out with Gregory for like a month, and he takes all my samples into the lab. And there was this investigation already going on, and I was like, okay, something's off here. And so I spend this month in Russia, and I come back. What was the investigation that was already going on? So in 2015, WADA releases in the, I can't remember exactly when it was. It was like early, like March of 2015, something like that. The World Anti-Doping Agency had already been investigating the Moscow laboratory, and they come out with this report that they believe that Gregory Wichenko was like the mastermind of this state-sponsored doping operation. And they got a bunch of evidence, but they had no idea. It was like, I mean, they had like literally like the tip of a pinky, and the size of the scandal was basically, you know, like an entire body. I mean, they literally just had the tip of the pinky. But the tip of the pinky was so bad that they shut down the Moscow lab. Gregory is now the fall guy. He's forced to resign. And, you know, and Putin's basically on television going like, look, look, whatever you want to believe, none of this is true. We have never doped. We don't cheat. These are all lies. Oh, and by the way, he says anybody who is responsible for this crime will be punished. So basically, Putin is literally on television going, Gregory Rachinkov is going under the bus. And Gregory is in Moscow, and we had, you know, been working together. He calls me up and he's like, but I am, but I need to escape. And I'm like, okay, when? He's like, now, I need to leave now. I'm like, like, like now, like as a now, he's like, yes, yes, I need a flight now. And I'm literally sitting there on Skype and I start doing a search for Moscow, Los Angeles. And I'm like, well, there's a flight in like 12 hours. And he's like, okay. I'm like, you want me to book that flight? He's like, yes, book the flight. If I put it on my credit card, they'll know you have to put it on your credit card. So I literally booked this flight, put it on my credit card. And a day later, here's Gregory in Los Angeles. And about a month into him being in LA and, you know, shit's going down in Russia. I'm like, look, man, you got to tell me what happened. And he opens up and, you know, and that's was Icarus. I mean, it was, it's amazing. It was crazy. The way it unfolded in the documentary, it's, it couldn't have been written better. Like if it was a drama, it was a scripted drama. It could not have been written better. And the fact that it was all just circumstance, just all happened, all happened at the right time. It's an amazing documentary. And for a person like Jordan Burroughs, who was here yesterday, it was too much. He literally had to shut it off. I told, I convinced him to watch the rest of it. I go, you have to. I go, it's so good. It's so crazy. 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