GREGORY PETSKO: For thousands of years, long before there was such a thing as a science of chemistry, people were fascinated by plants, because they knew that plants contained substances that could affect people. Coffee will keep you awake. Tobacco contains something that will calm your nerves. Foxglove contains an extract that'll affect your heart. And the whole goal of chemistry in the early part of the 20th century was to understand what these natural products were, to characterize their chemical structures, and figure out how to make them. This was called "natural products chemistry." It was the main branch of chemistry. And in 1929, Vienna, in Austria, was the seat of natural products chemistry. And that's why Percy Julian went there.
I mean, essentially, you have to start over, because this isn’t just Sochi. This isn’t just bobsled. This is all of Olympic history from 1970 onward. And so it calls into question every single medal ever won. Because what we know now is that there has been this spectacular state-sponsored fraud going on for 40 years. What do you do then? What the Tour de France did was they stripped Armstrong of his medals, but then they never gave them to anyone else, because everyone else had done the same thing as him. And in some ways, that’s what you’re looking at if you’re actually being truthful and honest with Olympic history.
Drawn into the controversy, Fogel actually helped to engineer Rodchenkov’s “defection” to the ., and is mentioned in the whistleblower’s May 2016 tell-all story to the New York Times. Now, the documentary fills in the gaps. But mostly it serves to humanize this self-confessed cheat, putting Rodchenkov’s behavior in the context of far greater corruption. Given all the attention on Russia in recent news coverage, Fogel’s Putin-centric approach will likely prove more effective than a deeper investigation into just how widespread such behavior is around the globe. But the greater takeaway is that the game itself is rigged, and the Russians only lost because they got caught.