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Amateur cyclist who tried to outwit anti-doping testers ends up winning an Oscar (+ video)

Icarus, which saw Bryan Fogel swept up in heart of Russian doping scandal, wins Academy Award for Best Documentary feature

An amateur cyclist who set out to make a film about his attempts to outwit anti-doping testers has won an Oscar.

Bryan Fogel’s film, Icarus, was named Best Documentary Feature at last night’s Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Fogel, who lives in Colorado and whose background is in comedy, spoke to officials at the US Anti-Doping Agency to tell them what he was up to.

They shied away from the project, perhaps understandably, and instead pointed him in the direction of Dr Grigory Rodchenkov of the Moscow Anti-Doping Centre – who would become the whistleblower on state-sponsored Russian doping.

And that’s how Fogel unwittingly found himself with a ringside seat as one of the biggest doping scandals sport has ever witnessed, the scope of his documentary evolving well beyond his original premise.

He was far from a passive observer, either, helping Rodchenkov escape Russia then putting him in touch with reporters from The New York Times so he could tell his story after two of his former colleagues died “unexpectedly.”

Accepting the Oscar last night, Fogel said: “We dedicate this award to Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, a fearless whistleblower who now lives in grave danger.

“We hope Icarus is a wake-up call, yes about Russia, but more than that, about the importance of telling the truth, now more than ever.”


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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