Blessing Okagbare’s Therapist Risks 10 Yrs Jail in US, Pleads Guilty in Nigerian Sprinter’s, Olympic Doping Case 

The United States’ authorities have said that a Texas therapist, Eric Lira, may face up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Olympic athletes including banned Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare.
The Department of Justice said in a statement that Lira, a “naturopathic” therapist based in the city of El Paso, who on Monday pleaded guilty in the doping case, is the first individual to be convicted under a new US law introduced in the wake of Russia’s state-backed Olympic doping scandals.
The 2020 law, named after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, enables US authorities to prosecute individuals involved in international doping fraud conspiracies.
Recall that Lira was found to have supplied drugs to Okagbare in the build-up to the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Following the incident, Okagbare who was subsequently banned from the sport for 10 years was expelled from the Tokyo Olympics before the women’s 100m semi-finals after it was revealed that she had tested positive for human growth hormone in an out-of-competition test in Slovakia before the games.
Daily Mail quoted US Attorney, Damian Williams, as saying Monday after Lira pleaded guilty in a federal court in Manhattan that the case was a “watershed moment for international sport.”
Williams added that “Lira provided banned performance-enhancing substances to Olympic athletes who wanted to corruptly gain a competitive edge.
“Such craven efforts to undermine the integrity of  sport subverts the purpose of the Olympic games: to showcase athletic excellence through a level playing field.
“Lira’s efforts to pervert that goal will not go unpunished.”
According to the law, the maximum sentence for violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is 10 years in prison.
The Justice Department statement said that Lira’s sentence will be determined by a judge at a later date.
Meanwhile, the US anti-doping officials welcomed Lira’s conviction, noting that it was only made possible by the recently enacted law.
The chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a nonprofit agency, Travis Tygart, said that “Without this law, Lira, who held himself out as a doctor to athletes, likely would have escaped consequence for his distribution of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs and his conspiracy to defraud the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games because he did not fall under any sport anti-doping rules.”



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