Texas man criminally charged for allegedly supplying Olympians with performance-enhancing medication

A Texas man is dealing with legal expenses for allegedly supplying performance-enhancing medication to Olympic athletes earlier than the 2020 Tokyo Olympics final yr. It’s the first time an individual has been charged below the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which was enacted in 2020.

Eric Lira, who claims to be a naturopathic and kinesiologist physician based totally in El Paso, allegedly obtained banned medication like human development hormones and the “blood-building” erythropoietin drug “prematurely of and for the aim of corrupting the 2020 Olympic Video games,” in keeping with the criticism unsealed Wednesday by the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace within the Southern District of New York. The performance-enhancing medication had been misbranded variations of the prescriptions and sourced from Central and South America. Lira then distributed them within the U.S.

The 41-year-old can be accused of speaking with two unnamed Olympic athletes by way of an encrypted digital platform, the place they mentioned the unlawful medication’ gross sales, cargo, effectiveness and the potential testability of the medication inside their system by anti-doping brokers. 

A number of weeks earlier than the Tokyo Olympics started on July 23, 2021, one athlete allegedly wrote to Lira that their physique felt “so good” and that they had been “sooooo completely happy,” in keeping with prosecutors. “No matter you probably did, is working so effectively,” the athlete wrote on the platform. 

Lira allegedly responded: “What you probably did…goes that can assist you for the upcoming occasions. You’re doing all your half and you can be able to dominate.”

Weeks later, an out-of-competition blood take a look at confirmed one of many athletes was utilizing human development hormones, prosecutors mentioned. The competitor was provisionally suspended from the Olympics on July 30.

Whereas the criticism didn’t identify any of the athletes who had been allegedly part of the scheme, the criticism’s particulars recommend that certainly one of Lira’s shoppers may have been Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, in keeping with the Related Press. Okagbare was provisionally suspended in July after testing constructive for human development hormones in an out-of-competition blood take a look at, the AP experiences. 

“At a second that the Olympic Video games supplied a poignant reminder of worldwide connections within the midst of a worldwide pandemic that had separated communities and international locations for over a yr, and at a second that the Video games supplied 1000’s of athletes validation after years of coaching, Eric Lira schemed to debase that second by peddling unlawful medication,” U.S. Legal professional Damian Williams mentioned Wednesday. 

Lira is accused of violating the lately enacted Rodchenkov Act, which “makes it illegal to knowingly affect (or try or conspire to affect) a significant worldwide sports activities competitors by use of a prohibited substance or prohibited technique.”

He faces legal penalties together with a most sentence of 10 years behind bars. Lira can be accused of conspiring to violate drug misbranding and adulteration legal guidelines, which carries a most jail time period of 5 years, in keeping with the Division of Justice. 

“We allege Mr. Lira knew he was breaking the foundations when he communicated with Olympians by way of an encrypted messaging app to cover his criminal activity,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll mentioned in an announcement Wednesday. “It is not successful in case you take unlawful substances – it is dishonest, and Mr. Lira will now be compelled to face the results of his alleged legal actions.”

Lira was taken into federal custody and set to look earlier than a decide within the Western District of Texas on Wednesday, the DOJ mentioned. 

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