‘Icarus’: How an amateur cyclist stumbled into the secret world of Russian doping

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was a grand spectacle of Russian glory. The host country took home an impressive 13 gold medals, which spiked national pride in Russia and boosted President Vladimir Putin’s stature.

But after the pomp and pageantry faded, there were explosive accusations claiming Russia had cheated and that dozens of Russian Olympic athletes, including 15 of their 33 medal winners, had participated in a state-run doping program.

At the center of the firestorm was Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, one of Russia’s top anti-doping scientists, whose story is chronicled in the new Netflix documentary “Icarus.”

“There was never any anti-doping in Russia, ever,” “Icarus” filmmaker Bryan Fogel told ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Dan Harris. “It was all just a facade.”

Watch the full story on “Nightline” TONIGHT at 12:35 a.m. ET

An amateur cyclist, Fogel said he initially set out to understand how his hero, Lance Armstrong, had managed to get clean drug tests for years despite his doping.

“If Lance had been able to do this… forget about cycling — what did this mean for every sport on planet Earth?” Fogel said.

So Fogel decided to make himself the guinea pig and take performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs, and then try to pass anti-doping tests, filming every step of the way.

“I was very interested to see if it was still possible to evade detection, if anything had changed since Armstrong’s confession,” he said. “That was the initial journey.”

For help with his project, Fogel said he was referred to Rodchenkov, who at the time was running Russia’s anti-doping lab.

“Grigory agrees to help me … and also agrees to help smuggle my urine to his Moscow laboratory to figure out when I would be clean, when I would test negatively,” Fogel said. “That in of itself was pretty mind-boggling, that this scientist was going to help me do that because he should not have been doing that to begin with.”

Fogel said part of the reason he thinks Rodchenkov was interested in helping him was for the allure of being a part of a movie and, Fogel said, “I think the other part of that is he had just got out of the Sochi Olympics, in which Russia had pulled off the single biggest fraud in the history of sport.”

But after Fogel started working with Rodchenkov, an explosive report in a German documentary about Russian state-sponsored doping, which lead in part to Independent Commission Report, found Rodchenkov was…

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