By Kayon Raynor
Three months after the RJRGLEANER Group broke news that a major law enforcement agency was pursuing the anti-doping case involving the provisionally banned Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday charged a Texas man with providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Forty-one ear-old Eric Lira of El Paso Texas in the USA became the first person charged under a new U.S. anti-doping law governing international sports competitions.
The FBI’s investigations fall under the controversial Rodchenkov Anti-doping Act passed by the United States last November 2020, which grants extraterritorial jurisdiction under major international doping fraud conspiracies.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan revealed that Lira distributed the drugs, including human growth hormone, “for the purpose of corrupting” the 2020 Games.
According to their press release “The Complaint unsealed today alleges that ERIC LIRA, a “naturopathic” therapist operating principally in the area of El Paso, Texas, obtained various performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) and distributed those PEDs to certain athletes in advance of, and for the purpose of cheating at, the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo in the summer of 2021”
It added that “LIRA was taken into federal custody today and is expected to be presented in the Western District of Texas today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Miguel A. Torres.”
The criminal complaint does not specifically name Okagbare, but includes details suggesting she was among Lira’s clients.
It pointed to exchange of text messages between Lira and Athlete 1, which state in part: “On or about June 22, 2021, Athlete-1 wrote to LIRA, “Hola amigo / Eric my body feel so good / I just ran 10.63 in the 100m on Friday / with a 2.7 wind / I am sooooo happy / Ericccccccc / Whatever you did, is working so well.”
On June 18, 32-year-old Okagbare clocked a wind aided time of 10.63 seconds to win her eighth national 100m title at the 2021 Olympic Games trial in Lagos.
The trailing wind was the identical positive 2.7 m/s, which is outside of the legal limits on 2.0 m/s.
Up to the time of writing, Okagare had not responded to phone calls or whatsapp messages from Radio Jamaica Sports for a comment.
Calls and messages sent to her former agent Paul Doyle, who stopped representing Okagbare shortly after her positive test during the Tokyo Olympics, were not answered.
In September, when the RJRGleaner Group Spoke to him, he had declined to comment.
The American Lira is also accused of conspiring to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws.
Okagbare was been provisionally suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone in July 2021, just hours before the former world championships silver medalist was due to run in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters at the Olympics. She tested positive for the drug in an out-of-competition test.