Eric Lira Charged with Providing PEDs to Athletes at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 12, 2022

Workers prepare to remove giant Olympic rings from the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park after 2020 Summer Olympics came to an end on Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Kyung-hoon/Pool Photo via AP

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced Wednesday that 41-year-old Eric Lira, a "naturopathic" therapist operating in El Paso, Texas, has been taken into federal custody on allegations that he procured performance-enhancing drugs and provided them to numerous athletes competing at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Per the release, Lira is the first person to be prosecuted under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, "which proscribes doping schemes at international sports competitions, including the Olympic Games." The law has been in place since December 4, 2020.

According to the Associated Press (h/t USA Today), authorities are also accusing Lira of "conspiring to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws."

The news was revealed after the complaint was unsealed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.

The AP wrote that Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare is one of the athletes accused of receiving PEDs from Lira.

"The criminal complaint does not name Okagbare but includes details suggesting she was among Lira's clients," the AP wrote.

Regarding those details, the complaint discusses alleged actions regarding "Athlete-1," including a July 30 provisional suspension from Olympic competition for a failed drug test before the 100-meter women's semifinal run.

Gerald Imray of the AP reported July 30 that Enagbare was suspended after testing positive for HGH before that aforementioned race.

Per the release, the maximum imprisonment sentence for the Rodchenkov Act is 10 years. Conspiring to violate misbranding laws carries a five-year maximum term.

The release also stated that Lira was slated to appear in the Western District of Texas on Wednesday with U.S. Magistrate Judge Miguel A. Torres presiding over the proceedings.