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Texas man charged with providing performance-enhancing drugs to Olympic athletes

According to the FBI, Eric Lira, from El Paso, gave the illegal drugs to at least two athletes before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this past summer.
Credit: AP
Dancers perform during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

EL PASO, Texas — An El Paso man was arrested Wednesday on federal charges of giving athletes performance-enhancing drugs before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

According to the FBI, Eric Lira used an encrypted messaging app to peddle the PEDs to Olympic athletes. Investigators say Lira, who describes himself as a "naturopathic" therapist, gave the illegal drugs to at least two athletes before the Tokyo Games that were delayed until this past July by the pandemic.

“Performance-enhancing substances deprive competitors of a level playing field.  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," FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said. "It's not winning if you take illegal substances -- it's cheating."

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According to the indictment, the PEDs included misbranded versions of human growth hormone and the "blood building" drug erythropoietin. The feds say Lira got the drugs from sources in Central and South America.

The two athletes allegedly involved in the doping scheme weren't identified.

In one message obtained by the FBI, one athlete said: "Hola amigo / Eric my body feel so good / I just ran 10.63 in the 100m on Friday / with a 2.7 wind / I am sooooo happy / Ericccccccc / Whatever you did, is working so well."

They say Lira encouraged the athlete before they left for Tokyo. “What you did . . . is going to help you for the upcoming events. You are doing your part and you will be ready to dominate”

That athlete was suspended from Olympic competition on or about July 30, 2021, after drug testing found the human growth hormone.

Lira is the first person charged under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act signed into law in December of 2020. If convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison.

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