A person in Texas on Wednesday turned the primary particular person charged beneath a brand new federal legislation that makes it a criminal offense to allow doping in worldwide sports activities competitions. The person, Eric Lira, described by prosecutors as a “naturopathic therapist,” is accused of offering performance-enhancing medication to not less than two athletes, together with not less than one sprinter who used them to bolster her efficiency on the Tokyo Olympics final summer season.
Federal prosecutors in New York introduced the fees on Wednesday within the first indictment beneath the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act. Damian Williams, the U.S. legal professional for the Southern District of New York, mentioned in an announcement that the transfer was geared toward “those that would taint the Video games and search to revenue from that corruption.”
The Winter Olympics in Beijing open in three weeks, on Feb. 4.
The legislation, handed in 2020, makes it a criminal offense to help or allow doping at worldwide sporting occasions, together with the Olympics, however has been extensively criticized as a result of it doesn’t apply to a significant American sports activities league just like the N.F.L. or Main League Baseball. The act is called for the Russian doping whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, who revealed Russia’s state-sponsored doping scheme in 2016 after which fled to the US.
Whereas the Rodchenkov Act handed with assist of Democrats, Republicans and the US Anti-Doping Company, worldwide sports activities organizations just like the Worldwide Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Company have referred to as it governmental overreach.
Each USADA and the Athletics Integrity Unit, the antidoping arm of the governing physique of monitor and discipline, hailed Wednesday’s arrest in statements. Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief govt, mentioned that he was “thrilled” with the Rodchenkov Act and the “energy that it brings in holding athlete assist personnel or different conspirators accountable.”
Within the case introduced Wednesday, Lira, 41, was charged with one rely of worldwide sports activities doping and one rely of misbranding conspiracy, for allegedly mislabeling the medication used within the scheme.
Federal officers didn’t title the athletes they mentioned acquired medication from Lira. However from particulars given within the legal grievance it’s clear one in every of them is Blessing Okagbare, a Nigerian sprinter who received a silver medal within the lengthy bounce on the 2008 Olympics.
Okagbare competed within the 100-meter race on the Tokyo Olympics, profitable her first-round warmth earlier than being suspended for doping and being disqualified from the semifinals. In accordance with the Athletics Integrity Unit, Okagbare examined constructive for human progress hormone.
Okagbare’s agent didn’t reply to a cellphone name or textual content message requesting remark. Figuring out particulars concerning the second athlete, together with whether or not the athlete competed in Tokyo or examined constructive for banned substances, have been scarce.
Little is understood about Lira. In accordance with the charging doc, he calls himself a “kinesiologist and naturopathic ND” on social media websites and is a managing member of Med Sport, an organization that was registered in Texas in 2017. He’s not a licensed doctor or bodily therapist in Texas, New York or Florida, in response to federal officers.
Lira competed in monitor and discipline for the College of Texas at El Paso between 2000 and 2004, in response to a information article within the El Paso Occasions, which mentioned he was from Sunland Park, N.M. Okagbare additionally competed for U.T.E.P, between 2008 and 2010.
Lira was in a jail in El Paso on Wednesday afternoon and unable to be reached for remark. It was not instantly clear if he had retained a lawyer.
Kirsten Noyes contributed analysis.