Texas Man Charged With Providing Performance-Enhancing Drugs to 2020 Olympians

A man in Texas has been providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Eric Lira is the first person to be charged with the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs, under the Rodchenkov Act. The law, which was signed in December 2020, makes all distribution of PEDs by non-athlete civilians in conspiracy with any other person, athlete or not. Lira is accused of distributing the blood-building hormone erythropoietin "for the purpose of corrupting" the outcomes of the 2020 Olympic Games. Lira is a registered kinesiologist and a naturopathic doctor and is accused of bringing "misbranded" items from Central and South America to athletes.

"Performance enhancing substances deprive competitors of a level playing field," said FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll in a statement. "We allege Mr. Lira knew he was breaking the rules when he communicated with Olympians through an encrypted messaging app to hide his illegal activity. It's not winning if you take illegal substances - it's cheating, and Mr. Lira will now be forced to face the consequences of his alleged criminal actions."

As part of the Rodchenkov Act, Lira is also charged with conspiring with others to violate the U.S.' drug misbranding and adulteration laws.

Doping
Different drugs are displayed which may be used when doping with EPO on February 25, 2015, in Chatenay, France. Erythropoietin, a blood-building hormone that Eric Lina is accused of distributing to athletes, is featured in the photo. Photo by Frederic T Stevens/Getty Images

The criminal complaint does not name sprinter Blessing Okagbare but includes details suggesting she was among Lira's clients. A text message was sent to Okagbare seeking comment.

Okagbare had been provisionally suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone in July 2021—in an out-of-competition test—just hours before the former world championships silver medalist was due to run in the semifinals of the women's 100 meters at the Olympics. The criminal complaint described that suspension.

"When it's time to say anything, I will and it will be worth the wait," Okagbare tweeted last year.

Federal authorities searched Okagbare's cellphone as she was returning to the United States from Tokyo and found she had frequently communicated with Lira over an encrypted app, according to the complaint.

"Is it safe to take a test this morning?" Okagbare wrote in one message to Lira, according to the complaint. "Remember I took it Wednesday and then yesterday again. I wasn't sure so I didn't take a test."

In another exchange, Okagbare wrote Lira that she had just run the 100m in 10.63 seconds. News reports detailed Okagbare running a race in that time a few days before the message was sent. "Eric my body feel so good," she wrote. "Whatever you did is working so well."

"You are doing your part and you will be ready to dominate," Lira wrote to the athlete.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tokyo 2020 Sign
Eric Lira of El Paso, Texas, is accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes participating in the Olympic Games. Above, the logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is seen in Tokyo on March 15, 2020. Photo by Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images