NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – US prosecutors on Wednesday charged a Texas man with providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes competing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including star Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare.
Eric Lira, 41, of El Paso, is the first person to be charged under the new US anti-doping law that governs international sporting events.
The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Lira distributed drugs, including human growth hormone and erythropoietin, a blood-building hormone, “with the aim of corrupting” the 2020 Games.
Lira is also accused of conspiracy to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer who could comment on the allegations.
The criminal complaint does not name Okagbare, but does include details that suggest she was one of Lira’s customers. A text message was sent to Okagbare seeking comment.
FBI Assistant Director Michael J. “It’s not a win if you take an illegal substance – it’s cheating,” Driscoll said in a statement.
Okagabare was temporarily suspended The former World Championships silver medalist was due to run in the semi-finals of the women’s 100 meters at the Olympics, to test positive for human growth hormone in July 2021. She tested positive for the drug in an out-of-competition test.
A criminal complaint was not disclosed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, alleging that kinesiologist and naturopath Lira brought “misbranded” versions of drugs from Central and South America to the United States before distributing them to athletes.
According to the complaint, federal officials searched Okagabare’s cellphone as she was returning to the United States from Tokyo and found that she communicated frequently with Lira over an encrypted app.
“Is it safe to test this morning?” According to the complaint, Okagbare wrote in a message to Lira. “Remember I took it on Wednesday and then again yesterday. I wasn’t sure so I didn’t take the test.
In another exchange, Okagbare wrote to Lira that he had run the 100 meters in 10.63 seconds. “Eric my body looks great,” she wrote. “Everything you did is doing a great job.”
“You’re doing your job and you’ll be ready to dominate,” Lira wrote to the athlete.
The charges against Lira were brought under the Rodchenkov Act, a law signed in 2020 that mandates “any person other than an athlete” to deliberately influence any “major international sporting event” with the use of a prohibited substance. prohibits. ,
Associated Press national writer Eddie Pels contributed reporting from Denver.