A Texas therapist allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to two United States athletes ahead of their participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held last summer in Japan, according to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

U.S. prosecutors arrested and charged Eric Lira, a 41-year-old therapist in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday in the first criminal accusations in the U.S. of doping at the Tokyo Games. The Olympics were postponed one year due to COVID-19.

The two athletes were not identified in the charging documents. Lira, who prosecutors said calls himself a “kinesiologist and naturopathic” therapist, is expected to appear before a federal judge in Texas Wednesday. He is the first charged under the Rodchenkov Act passed in December 2020 that extends enforcement of illegal drug activities to international events.

Therapist charged with distributing PEDs

Lira allegedly obtained misbranded versions of prescription drugs from Central and South America and distributed them to two athletes, prosecutors said. The drugs included human growth hormone and erythropoietin, commonly called “EPO” and used to stimulate production and maintenance of red blood cells.

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said prosecutors allege that Lira “knew he was breaking rules when he communicated with Olympians through an encrypted messaging app to hide his illegal activity.”

Prosecutors said Lira communicated with an athlete, identified as “Athlete-1” in the complaint, via encrypted communications regarding the sale, shipment and use of the drugs. It included communication regarding the “testability” of the drugs by anti-doping authorities, per the complaint. They also spoke of the results after using the drugs. Per the complaint:

 

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