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Press Release

First Defendant Ever Charged With Violating Anti-Doping Act Sentenced To Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
First Defendant Ever Charged With Violating Anti-Doping Act Sentenced to Three Months in Prison for Distributing Performance-Enhancing Drugs in an Effort to Taint the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ERIC LIRA was sentenced to three months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield for his role in providing banned performance-enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) to Olympic athletes in advance of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 2021.  LIRA is the first defendant to be charged and convicted, following his guilty plea in May 2023, under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which criminalizes the operation of doping schemes for the purpose of influencing international sports competitions, such as the Olympic Games.  

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Today’s sentence sends a clear message: violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act comes with serious consequences up to and including incarceration.  That message is especially important this year with the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris.  It is imperative that those tempted to supply performance-enhancing drugs to Olympians understand the severity of their actions.  Doping not only distorts fair play but also erodes the essence of sportsmanship, tarnishing the sanctity of international sporting events and betraying the trust of athletes and spectators alike.  It has no place in any community, and this Office is committed to rooting out efforts to compromise the integrity of sports and other affected events.” 

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Indictment, other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings:

The charges in this case arise from an investigation of a scheme to provide Olympic athletes with PEDs, including drugs widely banned throughout competitive sports, such as human growth hormone and the “blood building” drug erythropoietin, in advance of and for the purpose of corrupting the 2020 Olympic Games, which convened in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.  LIRA, who claims to be a “kinesiologist and naturopathic” doctor operating principally in and around El Paso, Texas, obtained unapproved versions of these and other prescription drugs from sources in Central and South America before bringing those drugs into the U.S. and distributing them to, among others, the two athletes referred to in the Indictment.  Throughout the scheme, LIRA and an athlete competing for Nigeria communicated via encrypted electronic communications regarding the sale, shipment, and use of LIRA’s illegal drugs and specifically discussed the “testability” of those drugs by anti-doping authorities.  LIRA separately communicated with an athlete competing for Switzerland via encrypted electronic communications on the use of human growth hormone and erythropoietin.  Both athletes tested positive for prohibited substances, and in both cases, LIRA directly and indirectly advised that the athletes should blame the positive drug test on contaminated meat, knowing full well that the drug tests had accurately detected the presence of banned, performance-enhancing drugs.

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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.   

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and the FBI’s Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative.  Mr. Williams also thanked the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for their support of this investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Illicit Finance & Money Laundering Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Mortazavi, Josiah Pertz, and Benjamin A. Gianforti are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff
(212) 637-2600

Updated February 21, 2024

Prescription Drugs
Press Release Number: 24-059