The International Olympic Committee said today that it is banning Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea following its investigations of a doping scheme. The news was met with applause by Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan, filmmakers behind the Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary, Icarus, an exposé chronicling Fogel’s investigation into the international world of sports doping. Netflix has rights and premiered the film in August.
“We applaud today’s decision by the International Olympic Committee,” he pair said today in a statement obtained by Deadline. “As we learned in the making of our documentary Icarus, the Russian state ran a vast, state-sponsored doping system that made a mockery of the Olympic ideals of brotherhood and fair play. We salute whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who risked so much to tell this story, and support all those who are willing to speak truth to power.”
Rodchenkov, the head of Russia’s anti-doping program, was a key cog in Icarus, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s inaugural Orwell Award. The film chronicles Fogel’s investigation into the international world of sports doping.
According to Rodchenkov’s lawyer Jim Walden, his client provided “credible and irrefutable evidence” of a system that was supervised and financed by then-Minister of Sports Vitaly Mutko and other “high-level government officials.” According to Rodchenkov, he replaced tainted urine samples with clean ones for Russian athletes during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The World Anti-Doping Agency and IOC confirmed Rodchenkov’s account and banned Mutko and his deputy Yury Nagornykh from future Olympics.
“Today’s decision by the International Olympic Committee sends a powerful message that it will not tolerate state-sponsored cheating by any nation,” Walden said today.
As part of the IOC’s decision, Russian athletes will be able to compete in PyeongChang next February only after being approved by an IOC panel, and will compete as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia” (OAR) and wear a specific uniform. Instead of marching behind of the Russian flag during the opening ceremonies, they will march behind the Olympic flag. During medal ceremonies, the Olympic anthem will be played.
Icarus opened the 2017 AFI Docs fest in Washington, D.C. and won the audience award at Sundance London.