US prosecutors on Wednesday charged a Texas man with providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including Nigerian sprinter star Blessing Okagbare.
Eric Lira, 41, of El Paso, is the first person to be charged under a new US anti-doping law governing international sports competitions.
The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Lira distributed the drugs, including human growth hormone, “for the purpose of corrupting” the 2020 Games. Lira is also charged with conspiring to violate the laws on false labeling and falsification of medicines. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer who could comment on the charges.
The criminal complaint does not name Okagbare, but includes details suggesting she was a client of Lira. A text message was sent to Okagbare to solicit comments.
Okagbare had been provisionally suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone in July 2021, just hours before the former world championship silver medalist was due to run in the women’s 100 meters semi-final at the Games. Olympics. She tested positive for the drug in an out-of-competition test.
An unsealed criminal complaint in federal court in Manhattan alleges that Lira, a kinesiologist and naturopathic doctor, brought “mislabeled” versions of the drugs to the United States from Central and South America before distributing them to athletes.
Authorities searched Okagbare’s cellphone as she was returning to the United States and discovered that she was communicating with Lira using an encrypted app, according to the complaint. (AP) RUP RUP
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