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November 18, 2017
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  • d;

    WOW. I’m amazed.
    Obviously I haven’t seen it.

    • Sean

      Its worth watching!

  • Rob Arena

    Bravo. Good work. The integrity of sporting performance has not a prayer.

  • The obvious but possibly dumb question… what if you don’t have Netflix? This sounds amazing

    • Neal Rogers

      To my knowledge, it’s exclusive to Netflix

    • Take the free month trial!

    • Sean

      If you don’t have it, you could get it.

      • Uhhh… yep. Don’t really want it, hence the question. But fair call

    • Oldan Slo

      There are ways to download it through peer-to-peer file sharing. It’s not cheating if you document it.

      • Sean

        If anyone needs a Therapeutic Download Exemption (TDE) please send me a fax.

    • Colts Tooth

      Pirate bay mate

  • Il_falcone

    Wow, Neal and Bryan! Thank you so much.

  • james

    The documentary is amazing. As for doping for a documentary – I have no problem with that whatsoever. But once you enter a sanctioned athletic event again others, you’re a D-bag.

  • De Mac

    Very interesting documentary – I was intrigued by the initial tenet of the experiment, then absolutely blown away by what eventually transpired. As for the IOC – they are a disgrace, as are most sports governing bodies, where the money ALWAYS speaks loudest…..

  • donncha

    Does he go into his biopassport regime? He claims that he would have passed it with only one red flag which could have been explained away. However, was the testing to make up his passport properly random? If not, it’s pretty easy to choose when to be tested so that your passport looks nice and clean.

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      In the movie he submits lots of samples at established intervals, not chosen specifically to beat the test. They are “testing the test”, seeing if the administration routes and doses could beat the established system (e.g. the whereabouts system can’t test you at night, so you can schedule a dose in the evening and hope it clears by the next morning – there are still “vampires” testing overnight during races, IIRC).

  • Manuel

    And you forget to ask him about his before and after numbers….awesome….

    • Neal Rogers

      I didn’t forget. We just never got to it. As you may have noticed, there was a lot of ground to cover. I chose to focus on what was not discussed/less touched upon in the film. But since you’ve asked so nicely: 250W threshold before doping, 340W threshold after.

      • Sylvester Jakubowski

        @disqus_S7eGmXqEn7:disqus these figures were in the doc, I didn’t understand the 250W figure, How do you place 14th with that FTP? Makes zero sense to me, I could understand being de-trained from a higher peak but not 14th at 250W.

        • Neal Rogers

          Good point. As someone who has a 250W threshold, I know 14th at Haute Route is not in the cards for me! Also, that would reflect a 36% increase, which is unprecedented. I reached out to Bryan to clarify, and while he didn’t recall his exact “before” number, he said he’d had a 20% increase in threshold, so his starting power must’ve been closer to 275W.

          • d;

            A 20% increase is far from ‘That did not happen. It did not happen.’ So this helps my understanding.

            Also the question around morality, makes one understand why so many people are doping.

          • Ed

            Firstly may I say I really enjoyed the movie, well done folks, and thanks to CyclingTips for bringing this to our attention and covering the context, cheers… However the numbers that are thrown around are a bit vague, or at least they don’t make sense to me… vague, considering how Bryan is obsessed with the whole doping strategy. For instance we don’t know Bryan’s weight, or do we? Hence W/Kg seems uncertain, which with something like the Haute Route being considered, a very important factor is being missed or at least one would consider it to be? Anyway, lets say he’s around 3.5W/Kg pre-doping, which given the FTP numbers quoted seems plausible, and after an extended doping phase he’s around 4.5W/Kg then that’s a sizeable difference, given we’re assuming 75kg body weight, all other training factors being equal. Now lets assume a ‘Top level Pro’ at 70 Kg and 420W FTP, then 6W/Kg pre-doping, there’s no way that guy will hit 8.2W/Kg doping, and that’s the corresponding relationship with Bryan’s results? Well, not unless someone can attest to that happening… ;O) I guess it’s not that linear, perhaps the scientists can chime in right now, please? Interesting stuff, or am I just over-simplifying it?

        • Matt DeMaere

          When talking about thresholds and this particular parcours, W/kg is going to be a better determiner. Bryan didn’t appear to be the biggest guy, so might come in around 60kg at a fighting weight. While a threshold ~ 4.2 W/kg will mean you’re reasonably competitive casually racing at masters level, in this event maybe its harder to fathom.

          Still, conservative riding and experience might explain part of it. Also, FTP while a great reference point, doesn’t encapsulate an athlete’s entire profile. You will find people who perform better in shorter or longer efforts that the average. Then you always have good days and bad days for everyone to share in.

          [ed] just going to add one thing.

          • Bryan Hill

            So I did the Haute Route Alps 2012, Pyrenees 2013. I was just about 4.1 W/kg and came about 100th in 2012. One bad day, but not terrible. A good friend of mine lived like a monk and trained very hard (with a coach) for 9 months, was just over 5 W/kg. Came about 25th in 2013 but lost a bunch of time on day 1 due to mechanicals so was on target for top 20.

      • Manuel

        Sorry Neal. I didn’t need to be snarky.

  • Sylvester Jakubowski

    I wonder where Humanity would be if there wasn’t such a hysteria for “clean” sport. Would we have a 6pack in a pill by now? Bryan’s comments on how he felt and his recovery are pretty interesting to say the least.

    Taking PED’s off the internet sounds sketchy as hell, but with proper supervison? Look at what kid’s these days are driven to do in sport. They say that early doping pays dividends 10 years down the line in performance while at the peak.

    How many of those 16/17 year olds are being supervised? Most have read what happens when you take drugs without the proper controls. For some of these kids it’s worth the risk. Pretty sad that they have to take the risk.

    Is someone better than you because they were lucky and had a pair of parents with an 80 ml/min/kg VO2?

    Before anyone jumps on me, no I have never doped, actually just got my UCI license and am super stoked for my first local race tomorrow.

    • Adam O’Halloran

      I think some of the ‘hysteria’ (as you say) comes from the known side effects of drug use. I asked in my own post if this is now something that can be done safely?

      I agree that internet purchase & self administration is a shortcut to having a very bad day and in the hands of the young and/or ambitious, I can see that happening a lot.

      Best of luck in your race!

    • Bones

      I think the hysteria is for winners, we just want think they are clean. For me this poses a deeper question about sport, why do we compete? Sport should be part of the triad of life- mental, spiritual, physical. Modern society has distorted this to heavily favor the physical. It’s life out of balance.

      And yes, some are luckier than others when it comes to genetics. That’s life, it’s not fair but it never was meant to be fair.

    • debineko

      Is someone better than you because they genetically have better numbers? Well, yes, they may have better natural potential but whether they can translate that into performance is another matter. Numbers alone don’t decide things. You can still be stronger mentally, have better tactics, have more experience, better use your experience. But if you look at someone’s numbers and think you haven’t got a chance, you’ve already been psyched out. And if they are better than you, you won’t be in the same cat anyway.

  • Adam O’Halloran

    I’ve seen the film and having read the article, I still have so many questions!

    Top 3 questions:

    Can a single cyclist beat the system? Is it enough for a team to collaborate to beat the system, or do you need to have Russia swapping urine samples, or a scientist to build a dodgy biological passport on the inside?

    My understanding of doping in most forms is about dramatically improved recovery (blood transfusions is another example) and Bryan says that’s the point of these drugs – he didn’t beat all of his Strava times… yet as @disqus_S7eGmXqEn7:disqus says and the data on the film shows, Bryan has a 250W threshold before doping, 340W threshold after.

    So it actually does improve performance, recovery, or both?

    Finally I always thought that most of these drugs were not good for you – especially if you self administered them (stories of pro cyclists dying in the middle of the night (apparently from using too much EPO) come to mind).

    Is this not the case anymore? Are these drugs safe(r) to use?

    • d;

      I haven’t seen the film but here are my answers to your questions. With research etc perhaps it’s possible that an individual can beat the system. I don’t think he may have been entirely honest about his Strava because he experienced a 20% increase. It would appear that they’re not all that bad for you (but I don’t believe it!)

    • Cyco

      Performance increases because recovery increases.

      The improved recovery allows harder training, or more tightly packed training sessions, and that allows the performance improvement. This is how the steriods and HGH help. EPO is slightly different in that it both improves recovery, and directly improves performance. It would appear that EPO doesn’t ‘work’ as well in some people as in others.

  • Matt DeMaere

    I mean no offence to Bryan, but I found this interview to be better than the film. Largely, this is because this interview answers all of the questions I wanted out of the film but didn’t receive.

    Nice work the two of you.

    • mrp33p3rs

      agreed

  • Paul O’Connell

    Alright, I’ll start. The unnamed pro has got to be Phil G doesn’t it? Known anti doper, lives in California, speaks his mind . . .

    • glenn

      @paulwoconnell:disqus – i was thinking that.

  • Robert Alpen

    For what it’s worth, it’s me in the yellow jersey at the Haute Route in your trailer. I won the prologue the day before (pan flat). I only did the first couple of stages that year, but I was ahead of Fogel when I left. I was 38 at the time. I didn’t produce any insanely incredible performance to win that https://www.strava.com/activities/184383004 (fwiw I’m 75kgs). Peter Pouly whether doped or not would crush everyone at the Haute Route. He was a top level professional for many years and continues to train about twice as much as anyone else who rides the event.

    I completely believe that there is cheating in amateur sport, I’m not that naive. However, having competed at the sharp end of most events in the French Alps and in Switzerland, there are very few performances I’ve seen that I would describe as very unbelievable. The Italian Granfondo circuit on the other hand I feel is another matter entirely.

    • Robert Alpen

      p.s. if you want to understand cheating in general and certainly how it would pertain to sport, you should watch this piece by Dan Ariely. https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code/transcript and then think about how Clean Protocol can help us to create a better future in sport http://cleanprotocol.org/

      • TH

        that was excellent and germane to this discussion. thx!

    • echidna_sg

      Top level former pro or not, Pouly doped in the past and was banned for it. He continues to be a polarising figure in amateur racing.

      • Robert Alpen

        Just to clarify, I’m not defending him, nor his practices in the past or maybe in the present. My point was more that he was a bad example to use in this regard as his level regardless is so far above that of even top amateurs that it’s not a good comparison.

    • DaveRides

      The dopers in the Italian amateur scene are so good that a guy caught with a built-in motor could only manage third in a race a few weeks ago!

  • De Mac

    Great comments mate and yes, the doco is very much worth a look when you can get onto it.

  • Wayne Crowley

    Watched this a few weeks ago and was blown away. One of the best documentries I have ever seen, Highlights so many of the moral and ethical issues in sport and society.

    Also Reinforces my feelings about LA being the best cyclist of his time and the hypocrisy of the Doping agencies and US Government. Didn’t like how he appeared during his racing career but do enjoy his stages pod cast.

    As a fifty + old male would love to be able access ways of improving recovery and making the aches and pains go away. Given pharma and modern medicine is pushing so many pills down our throats for other reasons why shouldn’t we be accessing tools to assist us to remain physically healthy and active.

  • Bones

    An incredible doco, pretty much shatters any illusion of ‘clean’ sport. The question becomes ‘how do we make sport fair?’ I’m sure that the industry built up around sport drug testing will advocate for more testing, yet as we see from this doco the vary people that are supposed to be guarding the system are the one’s breaking the rules. Perhaps advocating safe levels is the only alternative?

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Very interesting documentary – worth signing up for Netflix, even if you (as I did) cancel afterwards. Excellent follow-up interview, thanks. I was sad to read Fogel’s old “ends justifies the means” claptrap since that’s been BigTex’ (and most other cheats) rationalization from the start. In many ways that attitude IS the problem, everything else is just one of a variety of symptoms.

  • Sean Moran

    I saw Icarus the minute it landed at Netflix, and told a bunch of people about it. I enjoyed it very much! I’ve been following cycling since 1988, I just turned 40, raced up to cat 3 and stayed there for many years (1995-2004). I had the privilege of testing with USAT in 2001 in Colorado Springs, and experienced what a full-time athlete life is like. I read stacks of Winning Mag for years, watched hundreds of hours of races, and read all those articles about Dutch ‘kids’ with blood like glue in their veins…

    So my takeaway after listening to that podcast interview is this: a. We need more smart and intellectual conversations in cycling like this; b. I’m pro hormone usage if you aren’t racing or with supervision to be ‘balanced’ again. I’m not-pro pills for the sake of pills, but to balance health, I’m all in; c. I REALLY wanna do an Haute Route!!!; 5. Doping or administering substances is a mess, always will be. ONLY in Olympic sports, not main stream sports (football (both), NBA, golf, baseball) will there be testing/cheating etc till someone calls time and a recalibration is done; k. Why aren’t all the athletes simply monitored in real time, allow them usage of approved products, ban gene editing and use it like power, watts/kg, and technology used to show what makes these guys & gals tick?? Every athlete has a baseline, tested constantly – pre Tour, etc and a toxicology of what they are using and their numbers. No drugs are used day of events or boom – you’re out, micro dosing is limited, etc. make it ALL transparent. People, it might not be NBA, NFL – but this still is sport(s) as entertainment. Roads, riders, weather will all still play an element in the winner, but it’ll be transparent and monitored. Set up parameters, and if there are a random huge anomaly performance – test that person extra to prove the standards and move on. Again…you still need to log the time on the road in endurance sports at the elite level. Oh – just for the record though – ALL amateur sports are drug, PED, free zones. You sign a PRO contract, you are then medically supervised and things move forward as a professional.

    Oh, and I agree…you get caught with the cocktail that the California guy did racing Masters – you should be banned from 2 wheel racing for EVER. Masters doping is stupid, and that’s it. I know not everyone is going to agree with what I wrote, but hey – I love this sport, enjoy watching pro racing, look forward to some Fondos and Masters 40+ racing in 2018…and I know the difference between Professional sports and Amateur sports. Not trying to relive glory years, but do enjoy racing for the friendships, competitive nature, and pushing my body.

  • Andrew Gleeson

    This is probably the single greatest interview I’ve ever read. Congrats CT.

  • David

    So now what do I do? All I got from the documentary and this is that if you want to succeed in cycling you have to dope. There’re some big decisions I now have to make. Wish cycling had never entered my life.

    • d;

      Unfortunately I have to agree that Fogel was too vocal on/in favour of ‘controlled’-doping, as in, these drugs are readily available and OK’d for anti-aging, why not let competitors?
      Yes David, since according to Fogel they don’t harm you. ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

      • Bones

        I think the conclusion that Fogel makes is logical and sound. Micro-dosing of PED’s doesn’t seem to have any negative long-term effects AND it is impossible to catch athletes ‘cheating’ in this manner. In fact, the vary people that are in charge of policing this system are the ones that are violating it. Clean professional sport is an illusion.

        • debineko

          Isn’t that something worth fighting for, the image of professional sport? I don’t want my heroes to be an illusion. The other road leads to cynicism.

          Controlled doping is certainly an interesting application of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

          • Bones

            Possibly change who you view as heroic toward non-athletes? There is simply too much money and/or status involved with sports. Doesn’t it seem to be corrupt at every level- from the organizing bodies to the vendors to the athletes? I look at it purely as entertainment, no idolising, no worshipping- I can respect their dedication and their skill but honestly I have more respect for people that can make cool stuff.

  • TH

    Just finished watching the movie. Those looking for easy black and white answers will not be happy. Courage was shown by many of the players. But, people are going to cheat and there is no fool-proof system. Be true to yourself and let the chips fall where they may. Very thought-provoking interview and movie. Excellent discussion by many intelligent people.

  • Ettore Bombino

    Incredible! I commend you Bryan and Dr.Rodchenkov for an excellent expose.

  • Thanks for the insightful comment @thetallcyclist:disqus. These types of stories don’t come along often, but when they do I’m extremely proud of the team for doing them justice. I appreciate the kind words and glad you liked it.

    • A well-written and researched article is a pleasure to read and it hits all the right parts of the brain=), and without a doubt it causes a well-versed and often quite educational discussion afterwards. Thanks.

  • Johnny

    Great interview.

    But I strongly disagree about his statement, that likely everyone who is in the top spots at amateur events like the Haute Route is doping. Pouly was head and shoulders above everyone else and is highly suspicious. But the other guys’ performances are well within the range of “human” efforts. From my own experience I know that you can be competitive in european gran fondo events without PEDs.

    While Pouly is far away from holding “the record on Strava of every single climb in the Dolomites, in the Alps, and in the Pyrenees” he has got a very impressive list of KOMs with some of the most prestigious ones around, that’s true.

  • Patrick Murphy

    Great interview, great answers from BF too. Documentary is well worth a viewing. Take the months free trial and watch Narcos as well ????????

  • debineko

    A level playing field isn’t everybody having the same numbers, it’s everybody going for it with their natural ability. It is black and white. Don’t fudge. This does nothing but showcase what a slippery slope drug taking is. The “you haven’t been there so you don’t know” argument is bullshit. Your vision doesn’t become clearer as you get closer, it becomes blurred. You start to see philosophical debates where there are none. Many people now seem to think they have a right to compete at the highest level. They don’t. Sports heroes are not you and me. Unfortunately, many people also don’t need much more than someone saying maybe doping is just moving in step with science to justify their actions in their own weak minds.

  • parmijo

    There seems to be a strong Anti-Russian tone to the movie. Yes, the Russians cheat. But did everyone forget the US blood doping programs during the 1980s? Or the Chinese programs? Or the false birth certificates of female Chinese Gymnasts made to mask their true age? He could at least bring up that other nations have cheated the system. Then in the interview Fogel makes a statement regarding Russian cheating in sports being parallel to Russia interfering with our election. Why bring up the election? By what mechanism did Russia change the outcome of the election? I fear that Fogel’s “entertainment” and hollywood bubble prevented him from sticking to documentary subject. But the insertion of the “Russia meddling in our election” angle probably plays well with those he works with.

    • debineko

      Basically, I got the impression he’s talking out of his arse. He honestly seems to be on something. Talking a million miles an hour (or at least that’s how it reads), making wild accusations, contradicting himself constantly, proposing arguments that don’t hold water (don’t dope if you’re competing but do if you’re recreational…???), painting Russia as the only bad guy, jumping from institutional doping and gold at sochi to invading ukraine and meddling in the us election. Anybody that needs to talk up their own integrity (I wasn’t cheating because they’re all probably on something too doesn’t sound very integrious) and bravely in the face of overwhelming odds for the betterment of mankind and planet earth smells a bit off to me. But, hey, maybe you do need to talk that loud to be heard in hollywood.

      • James

        I gave up halfway through. I actually enjoyed the documentary but this podcast was full of far too many contradictions, and man does he like the sound of his own voice. If he stuck to the questions asked this podcast could of been 30 minutes long.
        As I say, I think the documentary was very good and very interesting to see, but he’s definitely on something, even, and his ego seems 100 times bigger since the documentary was a hit, he was actually ‘quite’ likeable on it

  • David Walker

    The podcast really got me thinking about “doping” in a number of ways that had never occurred to me before. The one that really sticks in my mind is the use of drugs that are banned as performance enhancing for recovery from illness or injury. Lets take a hypothetical person with a serious injury. Possibly career ending and maybe even affecting life outside of sport. Something like Taylor Phinney’s injuries in his crash a few years ago. In a case like that suppose that an athlete can use banned drugs to either recover faster or recover better (closer to the pre-injury state). Should that be banned or even tested for? I know if it was me and I was told by doctors that I might never compete again or maybe never even walk correctly again and that by taking these drugs the probability of having a normal life was increased then I would have a hard time not doing it. And if I was anything other than a professional athlete there would be nobody that would think it was a bad idea to take these drugs in recovery. So, should that be illegal in sports? Should athletes be tested in recovery? Or should there just be a period of testing prior to competition? Seems like a complicated issue to me. Especially since there is some evidence that taking things like EPO can have a permanent effect on athletic ability. So, even if you take it (like Lance apparently did while he had cancer) well out of competition it could aid you in the future if you ever compete again. Should it be allowed?

  • lefthandside

    Having read this I can’t believe I haven’t seen this film yet

  • Doubtful Guest

    What struck me about the documentary — besides the Russian doping scandal — is the glimpse into the kind of recreational rider who doesn’t have the talent to be a pro and whose ego is wrapped around an event like the Haute Route. And then when they don’t “win”, they imagine other riders are doping (probably true, because people are crazy) and decides to settle the score by juicing to see whether he can keep up with the fastest guys. Fogel doesn’t paint a pretty picture about himself, but he doesn’t seem particularly self-aware.

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