Eric Lira charged in first Olympics anti-doping prosecution

Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Revealing their first case under a law aimed at preventing doping in international sports competitions, US prosecutors have charged a Texas-based “naturopathic” physician with prescribing Performance-enhancing prescriptions for competitive athletes in 2020 Olympic in Tokyo, including Nigerian sprint star Bless Okagbare.

“At a time when the Olympic Games offer a poignant reminder of international connections amid a global pandemic that has divided communities and countries for more than a year, and at a time when the Games have providing thousands of athletes with confirmation after years of training, Eric Lira planned to debunk that moment by smuggling illegal drugs,” said United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams wrote in a statement. “The promise of the Olympic Games is a global message of unity. Today, this Office sends a strong message to those who want to corrupt the Game and seek to profit from that corruption. “

Eric Lira, El Paso, a naturopath based in Texas, faces two federal charges that could land him in prison for up to 15 years.

His prosecution is notable for the first use of a relatively new statute known as the Rodchenkov Act, which was signed into law in the dying days of the Soviet Union. Donald Trump administration on December 4, 2020.

Named after whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov– former director of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory, who disclosed state-sponsored doping – the law is intended to punish conspiracy to “influence using banned substances or methods prohibited any contest any major international sport,” according to the criminal complaint.

Charged under that statute and several separate conspiracies, Lira allegedly mislabeled drugs he obtained from Central and South American sources and distributed them to people identified in his complaint is only “Athlete-1” and “Athlete-2”.

Bless Okagbare

Maria Isabel Perez of Team Spain and Blessing Okagbare of Team Nigeria compete during the first round of the women’s 100 m match on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo , Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

Although neither was named in the complaint, details of one of the athletes against Okagbare, whose identity has been confirmed by the AP news agency. Prosecutors say the first athlete was a woman who was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit on July 30, 2020, after testing positive for human growth hormone. That matches what happened to Okagbare.

Before that time, however, Lira discussed the drug’s “experimental possibilities” in encrypted communication with Okagbare, prosecutors said.

According to the complaint, Okagbare wrote to Lira on June 13, 2021: “So I took 2000ui of E [erythropoietin] Is it safe to take the test yesterday morning? ”

Lira allegedly responded that it was “low dosage.”

Prosecutors say Okagbare responded: “Remember I took the test Wednesday and then yesterday again / I’m not sure so I didn’t take the test / I just let them go because so it’s going to be a failed test.”

More than a week later, on June 22, Okagbare is said to have written to Lira: “Hola amigo / Eric my body feels great / I just ran 10.63 in 100m on Friday / with a gust of wind 2.7 / I am very happy / Ericcccccccc / Whatever you have done, is working great. ”

Prosecutors said that despite their plans, the athlete was discovered the following month on July 19 during a blood draw conducted by the Athletics Integrity Unit, officials said prosecutor. The suspension was issued later that month.

Lira does not have a defense attorney listed on her federal books prior to press time.

Read the complaint below:

(Kai Pfaffenbach at AFP via Getty Images)

Is there a trick we should know? [email protected] Eric Lira charged in first Olympics anti-doping prosecution

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