The hope of Nigerian track and field star Blessing Okagbare clearing her name of doping and returning to the sport received a big boost on Monday after therapist Eric Lira pleaded guilty at the American court in Texas.
Okagbare was banned for 10 years after she was found guilty of using banned drugs.
Lira was found to have supplied drugs to Okagbare in the build-up to the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
US Attorney Damian Williams said Monday after Lira pleaded guilty in a federal court in Manhattan that the case was a “watershed moment for international sport.”
“Lira provided banned performance-enhancing substances to Olympic athletes who wanted to corruptly gain a competitive edge,” Williams said.
“Such craven efforts to undermine the integrity of sport subverts the purpose of the Olympic games: to showcase athletic excellence through a level playing field.
“Lira’s efforts to pervert that goal will not go unpunished.”
US anti-doping officials welcomed Lira’s conviction, noting that it was only made possible by the recently enacted law.
“Without this law, Lira, who held himself out as a doctor to athletes, likely would have escaped consequence for his distribution of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs and his conspiracy to defraud the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games because he did not fall under any sport anti-doping rules,” said Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a nonprofit”, AFP confirmed.