American therapist jailed for supplying drugs to suspended Nigerian athlete

Suspended Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare.

ATHLETICS American therapist jailed for supplying drugs to suspended Nigerian athlete

Joel Omotto 19:28 - 24.02.2024

An American athletics therapist has been sent to jail after being found guilty of supplying performance enhancing drugs to athletes, including a suspended Nigerian sprinter.

American athletic therapist Erica Lira was handed a three-month sentence and fined $16,410 (Ksh 2,352,590) and for supplying athletes, including suspended Nigerian Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, with performance-enhancing drugs.

Lira was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to supplying drugs to Olympic athletes, including Okagbare, who is currently serving a 10-year ban.

He admitted to supplying Okagbare with performance-enhancing drugs, leading up to the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Nigerian sprinter was pulled out of the women’s 100m semi-finals shortly before the Games began after it was found that she had tested positive for human growth hormone in an out-of-competition test in Slovakia.

Lira is the first person to be criminally convicted under a new US Law, known as the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which as signed by former President Donald Trump in December 2020.

“Today’s sentence sends a clear message: Violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act carries serious consequences, including prison time. This message is especially important this year with the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris. In addition to the prison term, Lira, 44, of El Paso, Texas, was sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $16,410,” said US Attorney Damian Williams in a statement, as per Athletics Illustrated.

The Act, named after the Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who is currently exiled in the US, gives US officials the powers to prosecute individuals for doping and related acts during international sports competitions that involve American athletes.

Under the Act, prosecutors have the ability to seek fines of up to $1 million (Ksh143 million) and a prison sentences of up to 10 years for doping when involving US athletes.

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