US prosecutors have charged a Texas therapist with distributing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes participating in the Olympic Games held in Tokyo last summer.
The charges against Eric Lira, unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, marked the first US criminal accusations of doping related to the Tokyo games, which were initially scheduled for 2020 but delayed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prosecutors obtained encrypted messages in which Lira and one of the athletes discussed the athlete’s performance running the 100 metres.Credit:Bloomberg
Prosecutors said Lira, 41, obtained misbranded versions of prescription drugs – including human growth hormone and erythopoietin, used to boost production of red blood cells – from Central and South America and distributed them to two athletes.
“The Games offered thousands of athletes validation after years of training,” Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “Eric Lira schemed to debase that moment by peddling illegal drugs.”
Lira, an El Paso, Texas-based therapist, was arrested on Wednesday, US time, and was expected to appear later that day before a federal judge in Texas.
The complaint did not identify either of the two athletes who allegedly received drugs from Lira.
Prosecutors obtained encrypted messages in which Lira and one of the athletes discussed the athlete’s performance running the 100 metres, suggesting the athlete was a sprinter involved in the athletics competition.
“Eric my body feel so good (sic),” the athlete wrote to Lira on June 22, 2021, according to one of the messages obtained by prosecutors. “Whatever you did, is working so well.”
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