Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Icarus

Cycling has always had an iffy reputation in terms of doping, but the admission by Lance Armstrong that he took performance enhancing drugs throughout his career jeopardised the credibility of the sport. There have been several films made about his downfall, but Icarus approaches the scandal from a different angle. Director Bryan Fogel sets out to see whether he can mimic Armstrong’s doping regime and compete in the Haute 7, the toughest amateur cycling endurance events in the world.

Bryan finished 14th last time round and wants to see what difference doping will make to his performance. He enlists the help of the former head of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, Don Catlin, who advises him regarding which enhancements to take. As the race draws nearer, Catlin begins to get cold feet. However, he knows someone who may be willing to help. He puts Bryan in touch with Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of a Moscow laboratory. That’s when it starts to get weird.

Icarus is one of those wonderful documentaries which starts out as one thing, but due to external events becomes something entirely different. It’s absolutely flabbergasting. Grigory is a real character, and what Brian is attempting to do seems like madness. However, as events overtake the pair, the comedy is replaced by high drama. Icarus is a riveting and thriller film which will astonish, dismay and surprise, in equal measure.

Icarus is set to be released on Netflix later on in the year.

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