Icarus follows its director, Bryan Fogel, as he initially attempts to learn more about the doping process by taking performance-enhancing drugs himself, observing the changes in his abilities and performance, and attempting to evade detection. However, after being connected with a Russian scientist considered to be an expert in the anti-doping policy and investigation, Fogel soon finds himself caught up in the maelstrom that cast a shadow over the country’s sports program.
Fogel’s investigation and interactions with Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov end up placing the pair at the center of one of the largest international sports scandals in history, and put both of their lives in danger as Russian officials connected with the scandal die under mysterious circumstances.
Netflix forged a historic deal for Icarus in January. The $5 million price tag for the film is one of the largest ever for the distribution rights to a non-fiction film. The deal was the culmination of an intense bidding war that began after the film earned rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.
“This has been an intense 3.5-year personal journey that exposed the biggest scandal in sports history,” Fogel said at the time of the deal in an official statement. “To be able to work with Netflix, a company that is able to launch this story globally in such a big way, with such potential for social and political impact, is a spectacular honor.”
Netflix is expected to promote Icarus as an awards-friendly offering this year when it releases the documentary simultaneously across all its platforms on August 4. That release date falls exactly one year after the International Olympic Commission disqualified 167 Russian athletes from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and banned the entire Russian team from the 2016 Summer Paralympics due to evidence of doping.