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Tokyo Olympics suspected athlete-drug supplier pleads guilty

A man who U.S. prosecutors charged with supplying performance-enhancing drugs to athletes at the Tokyo Olympics pleaded guilty on Monday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York said.

Eric Lira, 43, last year became the first individual charged under the Rodchenkov Act, a federal law that allows criminal charges against doping conspirators at events involving U.S. athletes, broadcasters and sponsors.

Prosecutors said that Lira, who was arrested in January 2022, distributed drugs, including human growth hormone, to athletes competing at the 2020 Tokyo Games (held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), including Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare.

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Lira had previously pleaded not guilty. He could face as much as 10 years in prison, but would likely get less under his plea agreement.

Okagbare is currently serving an 11-year ban for multiple breaches of anti-doping rules and refusing to co-operate with the investigation.

Okagbare, who won silver in the long jump at the Beijing 2008 Games, was provisionally suspended in 2021 after testing positive for multiple prohibited substances before the Tokyo Olympics.

The 33-year-old had competed in the 100m heats in Tokyo on July 31 and was due to run in the semi-final before being suspended.

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