The Memo: Texas man pleads guilty to supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Olympic athletes

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Texas man pleads guilty to supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Olympic athletes

Charity Agasaro – 22 May 2023

Last week, Texan Eric Lira entered a guilty plea to supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Olympic athletes, potentially resulting in a prison term of up to 10 years. The reason the case is significant is that it is the first case to surface under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, enacted in response to Russia's state-sponsored doping scandal. The Act grants US authorities the power to prosecute individuals involved in doping schemes in international sports competitions, and was seen by many as a means of restoring public confidence in clean sport.

The case revolved around the supply of banned substances to Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who received an 11-year ban from athletics after testing positive for a human growth hormone. The maximum sentence for violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is 10 years of imprisonment, but the specific penalty for Eric Lira will be determined by a judge. The United States Anti-Doping Agency released a statement highlighting that without the Anti-Doping Act, Lira, who falsely presented himself as a doctor to athletes, would likely have escaped consequences for distributing dangerous performance-enhancing drugs and conspiring to defraud the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, since he did not fall under any sport anti-doping regulations. The organization emphasized that the handling of Lira's case sends a strong message about the importance of adhering to sports rules, and demonstrates the United States' commitment to identifying and punishing fraudulent activities that steal from athletes and the public.

If you’re interested, you can find out more about the law around doping and performance-enhancing drug use in sport here.