FIVE years after the sensational TV documentary “Icarus” showed it to the whole world the ugly truth about Russian doping, a new documentary takes the story a painful step further:
- The sequel «Icarus – the Aftermath» shows whistleblower Grigorij Rodchenkov’s sad everyday life in the United States on the run from Vladimir Putin’s avengers.
As the film camera rolls and you see the wanted Rodchenkov dyeing his hair to protect himself, Putin’s men catch up with others on the regime’s enemies list.
The Russian ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter are found unconscious from nerve gas on a bench in the small English town of Salisbury, and the politician Alexei Navalny is taken poisoned to a hospital in Omsk. It all happens while Rodchenkov is changing flats in the US:
– A fool with obvious problemswas Putin’s verdict on his ex-doping boss a couple of years ago.
That characterization was an obvious attempt to play on Rodchenkov’s breakdown just before this professional chemist became head of the doping laboratory in Moscow and directed Russia’s state fraud leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The new TV documentary shows a completely different seriousness, and makes every day dangerous for him who, according to himself, regretted the cheating and became a whistleblower:
– Treason is usually the greatest crime on earth. And traitors must be punishedPutin is quoted during this documentary, which has been filmed over five years.
Now this quote has taken on an even uglier undertone.
Every day, Putin takes his revenge on the whistleblower who is in solitary confinement in the United States.
FOR it is of course Putin’s war against Ukraine that makes “Icarus The Aftermath” so important, and that this sequel is praised by film people after the premiere this weekend.
Where the revelation of the crazy Sochi scam with mouse holes, bottle swapping and Russian secret agents a couple of years ago seemed almost parodic, now the comic is definitely over:
- Putin’s nationalistic abuse of top sport was in reality the prelude to a bloody war.
All the Russian medals that Grigorij Rodchenkov literally cooked up in the doping laboratory in Moscow were to be used for the propaganda that is now ravaging the conscience of Russians.
SELF Rodchenkov had enough. Maybe he regretted it, maybe he was just scared. When the international web began to tighten around the fraud in Sochi, he used the new friendship of the American TV director Bryan Fogel to escape from Russia.
The two had become acquainted shortly before when Fogel was working on a crazy cinematic idea for a personal documentary that would show how easy it was to dope for an ordinary exerciser like him. The eccentric doping hunter Rodchenkov became the American filmmaker’s professional adviser, and willingly let himself be carried away.
But suddenly this film idea became something more than a sports version of the iconic hamburger eating in “Super Size Me”. In February 2016, Rodchenkov’s apparently perfectly healthy anti-doping colleague Nikita Kamaev suddenly died aged just 52 from what was reportedly a cardiac arrest.
But more likely another Russian political murder.
FOR Kamaev, who was head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), had contacted British journalists with material about the Sochi fraud even before Grigory Rodchenkov fled to the United States. He too was sitting with evidence to be used in a planned book.
It is these various pieces of evidence that the new documentary follows. Rodchenkov has diaries about his own doping past forty years ago, but some of the material is still hidden in Moscow. In the documentary, Rodchenkov’s helpers try to get this substance out as well to further substantiate the whistleblower’s story:
– The problem with Russia is that no one is telling the truth. I am not against Russia. I am against systematic lyinghe says himself in the film.
IT the lie has already been exposed thanks to Grigorij Rodchenkov. The adventurous stories he told have been verified.
Ironically, however, telling the truth did not help, until the Russian authorities felled themselves by cheat again with the data from the laboratory in Moscow.
By then, the whistleblower had long since embarked on his eternal escape from Putin’s avengers. From constantly new penthouses, he saw how the international sports leaders were reluctant to settle with Russia, and how the judges in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the ban to keep the Russians in the game as much as possible.
All while TV director Bryan Fogel despairingly experienced what the isolation did to the whistleblower he had helped out of Russia:
– It is heavy, very heavyhe said during an interview about his Russian friend’s secret life in the United States.
Only when Vladimir Putin himself threw himself into Ukraine did IOC President Thomas Bach and the other international sports leaders change sides and punish this cynical abuse of top sport.
LIKE THAT this is a close, bitter documentary that shows the whistleblower’s sad everyday life isolated in a foreign country. The friendship between the Russian defector and TV director Fogel is just as good, but the conversation has moved to two computers.
Only Bryan Fogel’s trusted cameraman has occasionally been allowed to film Grigorij Rodchenkov’s monotonous everyday life in exile. There are unique recordings from a secret world:
– What did you actually achieve??, asks his wife Veronika exhausted and frustrated on the phone at home from Russia.
The family is divided, Grigorij appears as stingy as he has always seemed in his new role as hero, and the answer is not given.
The disclosure of Russia’s doping fraud is not enough. Putin’s aggressive nationalist elite has finally been isolated from the West, but not yet defeated.
We are still waiting for the aftermath.