Anti-Doping Law Nets First Prison Sentence For Therapist Who Helped Sprinters Get Drugs

NEW YORK (AP) — The first person charged for violating a 2020 law that forbids conspiracies to taint international sports events through performance-enhancing drugs received a three-month prison sentence.

Federal prosecutors used the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act to charge Eric Lira, a Texas-based therapist, with supplying human-growth hormone and other performance enhancers to a pair of Nigerian athletes who were regulars on NCAA, Olympic and world championship podiums.

Lira pleaded guilty in May.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the message the prison sentence sends “is especially important this year with the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris. It is imperative that those tempted to supply performance-enhancing drugs to Olympians understand the severity of their actions.”

Regulators at the World Anti-Doping Agency lobbied against key parts of the Rodchenkov Act, which passed without dissent through both houses of Congress before it was signed by then-President Donald Trump.

Two athletes Lira dealt with — Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru — are serving multi-year bans. Meanwhile, prosecutors have expanded their probe to charge coaches who worked with Lira in the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called the sentencing a breakthrough that has put teeth into anti-doping rules.

“This ongoing collaboration between anti-doping organizations, law enforcement, and other federal agencies will continue to impose meaningful consequences for those who conspire against clean athletes and fair sport,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said.


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