By Pius Fakande
A Texas therapist who supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Olympic athletes, including suspended Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, has become the first person charged under a new US anti-doping law.
US justice department officials in New York said Eric Lira, a 41-year-old “naturopathic” therapist based in El Paso, supplied drugs to two athletes for the “purpose of corrupting” the Tokyo Games.
Earlier reported that the Nigerian top athlete Okagbare was suspended for doping on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Athletics Integrity Unit while announcing the suspension said the 32-year-old Nigerian athlete tested positive for a banned substance – human growth hormone.
The anti-doping body said Okagbare tested positive for the prohibited substance in an out-of-competition test on July 19 – four days before the Olympics opened.
The case is the first time charges have been brought under the Rodchenkov Act — a law introduced in the United States in 2020 in the wake of Russia’s state-backed doping scandal.
The law, named after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, enables US authorities to prosecute individuals involved in international doping fraud conspiracies.
US attorney Damian Williams said the charges announced Wednesday sent “a strong message to those who would taint the (Olympic) Games and seek to profit from that corruption.”