US prosecutors on Wednesday charged a therapist in El Paso, Texas, with providing performance-enhancing drugs during last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
What do we know so far?
The speculate, 41-year-old Eric Lira, is accused of distributing misbranded versions of prescription drugs to athletes. These drugs include human growth hormone and erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells.
Lira, a kinesiologist and naturopathic doctor, was taken into custody on Wednesday. He is accused of violating drug misbranding laws.
“The Games offered thousands of athletes validation after years of training,” US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said. “Eric Lira schemed to debase that moment by peddling illegal drugs.”
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed Lira hid his illegal activity by using an encrypted messaging app.
Nigerian athlete Blessing Okagbare may have been Lira’s client
Lira is believed to have given the drugs to two athletes. The criminal complaint from the DOJ indicates Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare was one of Lira’s clients.
Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare currently faces multiple doping charges
In July 2021, Okagbare was provisionally suspended from the Olympics after she tested positive for human growth hormone.
Lira is the first individual to have been charged under a new US anti-doping law.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which was signed by former-President Donald Trump in December 2020, gives the US government additional powers to fight doping at international sporting competitions which include US athletes.
Violators of the Rodchenkov Act can confront up to 10 years in prison.
wd/sms (Reuters, AP)
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