Texts and photos lead to the first doping case under new US law

Denver (AP) — The hopeful Olympic top medal in Nigeria was exciting. The medicine sent by her doctor was working.

“Eric’s body feels very good,” Blessing Okagbare personally said in the text shortly after running 100 meters in the best 10.63 seconds. “Everything you did is working very well.”

“Eric” is Eric Lira, a naturopathic doctor in Texas. On Wednesday, he became the first person to be prosecuted under groundbreaking US law.

Okagbare is the most famous sprinter in the country with a history of doping problems and may face more scrutiny with the support of the Rochenkov Act. Passed in 2020 To eradicate such cases.

“You can’t win if you take an illegal substance. It’s a fraud,” said Michael J. Driscol, assistant director of the FBI, who led the investigation.

The text between Lira and Okagbare was one of the 10 pages of evidence opened by the US law firm in Manhattan in a criminal accusation. According to the lawyer’s office, Lira distributed drugs such as human growth hormone and the hematopoietic hormone erythropoietin “for the purpose of corruption” at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 33-year-old Okagbare, who won the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics long jump, was not specifically named in the complaint. However, the description of “Athlete 1”, along with her racing and suspension history, makes Okagbare a “T”. From the excited 10.63 in mid-June to the provisional suspension I received for the positive test in late July. Human growth hormone.

The suspension was announced hours before Okagbare entered the 100-meter semifinals in Tokyo. The Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees anti-doping efforts in athletics, previously stated that Okagbare tested positive for blood boosters in June in Nigeria. She was charged with not cooperating with the investigation after failing to comply with orders to create “documents, records, electronic storage” in connection with other charges, AIU said at the time.

The ability of anti-doping authorities to detect doping and suspend Okagbare, who was considered a strong medal candidate, before the race is a victory in itself, another chapter in a long cycle of medal deprivation and re-awarding. It says that it hindered. A few years after the breach occurred.

Okagbare did not return the text message that the Associated Press left on the mobile phone. She is almost silent except last year’s tweet. “When it’s time to say something, I’ll be worth the wait,” she said.

There was a brewing problem in Nigeria, even before Okagbare stopped. Nigeria was considered a “risk” country by anti-doping regulators due to flaws in its testing programs. AIU has announced that 10 Nigerian athletes will not be allowed to participate This is because they do not meet the anti-doping test requirements for the Olympics.

It is this history that shows that Nigeria may be further targeted with the support of the Rochenkov Act. More than individual athletes, legislation has been passed to track people and organizations that fund and promote doping programs.

Critics of the law, including the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency, claim that the law is widespread and gives U.S. authorities excessive authority to prosecute violations that occur outside the U.S. border. doing. However, shortly after the accusation was unsealed, some celebrities in the anti-doping world praised the first case under the new law.

“Collaboration between law enforcement and anti-doping agencies can significantly enhance our ability to detect serious doping, as claimed in this case,” said Brett Clothier, head of AIU. I am saying.

With advice from a whistleblower, authorities accessed Okagbare’s cell phone and saw a message that she requested four doses of “honey.”

There are also some text messages between Okagbare and Lira, some of which also mention “Athlete 2” who lives in Florida and has not been identified.

About 10 days before Okagbare did his best, I received the following text on June 7th. Upset, angry, and disappointed. “

A few days later, Athlete 1 took Lira “yesterday’E’2000ui. Is it safe to take the test this morning? “I wrote. Remember what we took again on Wednesday and yesterday. I didn’t take the test because I wasn’t sure. “

A few days later, Okagbare ran 10.63. This is the personal best that made her so happy, despite the help of the wind.

Her suspension has continued since last year, but the Rochenkov Act is designed to throw a wider net and has captured Lira, a provider whose next hearing is allegedly scheduled for next Tuesday.

“Today’s actions are perfectly appropriate and take seriously the enforcement of anti-doping while setting an example of international cooperation and fair play for future generations,” said Grigory Rodchenkov, of the same name in the law. Said.

Rochenkov was the director of the Anti-Doping Institute in Moscow, where many of Russia’s plots were. Weaken the system It was held prior to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He has lived in hiding since he first appeared as a whistleblower on Russia’s plans.


Associated Press reporter Jim Mustian contributed from New York. Pell reported by Denver.