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Monday, January 24, 2022

Texas man has been charged for the first time in the US under new antidoping law

A man in Texas on Wednesday became the first person charged under a new federal law that makes it a crime to enable doping at international sporting events. Eric Lira, a man described by prosecutors as a “naturopath”, is accused of providing performance-enhancing drugs to at least two athletes, including at least one sprinter who made his debut at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. They were used to enhance performance.

Federal prosecutors in New York on Wednesday announced charges in the first indictment under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act. Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that the move is aimed at “those who would stigmatize the Games and seek to profit from that corruption.”

The Winter Olympics in Beijing will begin in three weeks on February 4.

The law, passed in 2020, makes it a crime to aid or enable doping at international sporting events, including the Olympics, but has been widely criticized because it does not apply to major US sports leagues such as the NFL or Major League Baseball. The act is named after Russian doping whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, who in 2016 exposed Russia’s state-sponsored doping plan and then fled to the United States.

While the Rodchenkov Act passed with the support of Democrats, Republicans and the United States Anti-Doping Agency, international sports organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency have called it government overreach.

Both USADA and the Athletics Integrity Unit, the antidoping arm of track and field’s governing body, commended Wednesday’s arrest in statements. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said he was “thrilled” by the Rodchenkov Act and “the power it brings to holding athlete support personnel or other conspirators accountable”.

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In the case announced Wednesday, 41-year-old Lira was charged with one count of international sports doping and one count of misbranding conspiracy, for allegedly falsely labeling the drugs used in the scheme.

Federal officials did not name the athletes whom they said got drugs from Lira. But it is clear from the details in the criminal complaint that one of them is Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who won a silver medal in the long jump at the 2008 Olympics.

Okagabare competed in the 100 meters at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a first-round heat before being suspended for doping and disqualified from the semi-finals. According to the Athletics Integrity Unit, Okagbare tested positive for human growth hormone.

Okagbare’s agent did not respond to a phone call or text message requesting comment. Identifying details about another athlete, including whether the athlete competed in Tokyo or tested positive for banned substances, were rare.

Little is known about Lira. According to the charging document, he describes himself as a “kinesiologist and naturopathic ND” on social media sites and is a managing member of Med Sport, a company registered in Texas in 2017. He is not a licensed therapist or physical therapist in Texas. , New York or Florida, according to federal officials.

According to a news article in the El Paso Times, Lira competed in track and field for the University of Texas at El Paso between 2000 and 2004, stating that he was from Sunland Park, NM Okagabare between 2008 and 2010. Also competed for UTEP.

Lira was in a prison in El Paso on Wednesday afternoon and was unable to be contacted for comment. It was not immediately clear whether he had retained a lawyer.

Kirsten Noyce Contributed to research.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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