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Entertainment Weekly


Icarus director calls Russian Olympic participation 'a slap in the face' to clean athletes

Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

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Icarus director Bryan Fogel has a lot to say about the loophole that has allowed Russian athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

An amateur cyclist himself, Fogel began his now-infamous doping documentary as a first-person investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, but eventually stumbled onto Russia’s extensive state-sanctioned doping program, which recently got the country banned from the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Russian athletes, however, can still compete if they wear a neutral uniform and don’t officially represent Russia. Any medals won will not be credited to Russia. As Fogel put it to EW while walking the red carpet at the Director’s Guild of America Awards last Saturday, “Russia’s been banned from the Olympics technically, but of course, within the corruption of the IOC, they’ve found their ways creatively around this ban to allow Russia in the Olympics.”

He added, “It’s a slap in the face to every clean athlete in the world to basically punish a fraud of this magnitude that was going on for 30 years with what is really, in effect, a slap on the wrist.” Fogel said he hoped this response would provoke clean athletes to boycott the games, but no such action was taken.

Still, he’s optimistic the documentary will have lasting effects on international sporting events. “I’m hoping at these games there will be a lot of discussion about that, and that in the future this will be the last conspiracy that is uncovered in this regard,” he said.

Fogel also took the time to comment on disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s praise for Icarus. “On the first part of the journey of the film, I was hoping to show that he was a needle in the global haystack of doping and sport. I could have never imagined where the story was going to end, and that it would truly actually prove that to be the case,” Fogel said. “But I was very happy that Lance had the reaction that he did because it helped to further validate the film that somebody of his stature, love him or hate him, was impacted and moved by the film and went so far as to even publicly come forward to praise the film.”

Icarus is in the running for an Academy Award for best documentary. The Winter Olympics begin tonight on NBC.