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Tue, May 09, 2023

US therapist Eric Lira pleads guilty to supplying performance-enhancing substances to Olympic athletes

US therapist Eric Lira pleads guilty to supplying performance-enhancing substances to Olympic athletes

Eric Lira, a "naturopathic" therapist based in the city of El Paso, Texas faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty for his role in helping Olympic athletes obtain performance-enhancing substances before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Lira is the first individual to be convicted under a new US law introduced in the wake of Russia's state-backed Olympic doping scandals, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, named after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, enables US authorities to prosecute individuals involved in "doping schemes for the purpose of influencing international sports competitions" including those who have not previously been governed by sport anti-doping laws.

Lira was found to have supplied drugs to Okagbare in the build-up to the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Okagbare was subsequently banned from the sport for 10 years, was expelled from the Tokyo Olympics just before the women's 100m semi-finals after it emerged she had tested positive for human growth hormone in an out-of-competition test in Slovakia before the games. [The full decision can be found here.]

The maximum sentence for violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is 10 years in prison. Lira's sentence will be determined by a judge at a later date, the Justice Department statement said.

“Without this law, Lira, who held himself out as a doctor to athletes, likely would have escaped consequence for his distribution of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs and his conspiracy to defraud the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games because he did not fall under any sport anti-doping rules," said Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a nonprofit.

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