Every Friday, InsiderSport takes a look at a time in which a gripping sporting narrative was portrayed through the unmistakable medium of cinema.
The inaugural edition looks at Bryan Fogel’s bold exploration into the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in cycling, a journey which eventually connected the actor with Russian Doctor, Grigory Rodchenkov, whose unorthodox character led to a surprising rapport with Fogel and the unearthing of a deeply engaging insight into the state sponsored doping scandal in Russia.
The story commences with avid amateur cyclist Fogel seeking to not only improve his time in a well known non-professional race, but also pass all urine tests, with the help of a carefully constructed PED plan.
The plot thickens however, when Fogel enlists the help of Rodchenkov to guide him through the journey. Fogel then follows the path of the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory as he becomes embroiled in the state sponsored doping scandal that rocked Russian sport.
Rodchenkov’s forthcoming nature sends the documentary down a path it could have only once dreamed of, as the Russian provides an insight that almost defies believe into the levels and methods of state sponsored doping that took place in Russia.
The film hinges on Rodchenkov’s role, as he becomes a whistleblower and unearths enough secrets to leave him fearing for his life. Despite an admittance of his regretful actions in aiding state sponsored doping in Russia, Rodchenkov’s charisma and portrayal lead to him becoming a figure that’s impossible not to empathise with.
Having premiered at Sundance, the two hour feature was acquired by Netflix for no less than $5 million and went onto win the Oscar for best documentary in 2017.