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American arrested for supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Nigerian sprinter, Okagbare, others

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Eric Lira, a citizen of the United States, has been arrested for allegedly supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, and other athletes that competed in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

According to a report in NBC News, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint at the Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday alleging that Lira, a kinesiologist and naturopathic doctor, brought “misbranded” versions of the drugs to the United States from Central and South America before distributing them to athletes.

The 41-year-old is the first person to be charged under the new U.S. anti-doping law governing international sports competitions.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, Lira distributed the drugs, including human growth hormone and erythropoietin, a blood-building hormone, “for the purpose of corrupting” the 2020 Games.

Lira also is accused of conspiring to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws.

Meanwhile, a criminal complaint does not name Okagbare but includes details suggesting she was among Lira´s clients.

FBI Assistant Director, Michael J. Driscoll, had said in a statement, “It´s not winning if you take illegal substances – it’s cheating.”

Okagbare had been provisionally suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone in July 2021, just hours before the former world championships silver medalist was due to run in the semifinals of the women´s 100 meters at the Olympics.

She tested positive for the drug in an out-of-competition test.

Federal authorities searched Okagbare’s cellphone as she was returning to the United States from Tokyo and found she had frequently communicated with Lira over an encrypted app, according to the complaint.

“Is it safe to take a test this morning?” Okagbare wrote in one message to Lira, according to the complaint. “Remember I took it Wednesday and then yesterday again. I wasn´t sure so I didn’t take a test.”

In another exchange, Okagbare wrote to Lira that she had just run the 100m in 10.63 seconds. “Eric my body feels so good,” she wrote. “Whatever you did is working so well.”

LIRA encouraged his client, “What you did . . . is going to help you for the upcoming events. You are doing your part and you will be ready to dominate.”

The charges against Lira were brought under the Rodchenkov Act, a law signed in 2020 that prohibits “any person, other than an athlete,” to knowingly influence any “major international sports competition” with the use of prohibited substance.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said, “At a moment that the Olympic Games offered a poignant reminder of international connections in the midst of a global pandemic that had separated communities and countries for over a year, and at a moment that the Games offered thousands of athletes validation after years of training, Eric Lira schemed to debase that moment by peddling illegal drugs. 

“The promise of the Olympic Games is a global message of unification. Today, this Office sends a strong message to those who would taint the Games and seek to profit from that corruption.”

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SPORTS

EPL: I don’t play in my preferred positions – Pulisic becomes latest Chelsea player to hit at Tuchel

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Chelsea to sell Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic has become the latest Chelsea player to open up on his struggles at the club.

According to the 23-year-old, he does not get to play in the positions he really wants to.

Pulisic is yet to nail down a regular starting place at Stamford Bridge under Thomas Tuchel.

The American winger also struggled with injuries since his arrival at the club in 2019.

Pulisic is currently away on international duty, ahead of a 2022 World Cup qualifying triple-header starting against El Salvador on Friday.

He told NBC Sports: “When I come to the national team it is “How are things with Chelsea?” and ‘What’s this” and “What’s that.” It’s tough.

“Mentally it has played on me at times but I am always very excited to be on the national team and get to enjoy playing with these guys and just enjoy football in general.

“It is tough. I haven’t always been playing in the positions I want to play in. But I think it is a good quality to be versatile and able to play in all kinds of positions and have different strengths on the pitch.”

Pulisic was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s last two league fixtures, after playing in six games straight over the festive period in a variety of positions.

His comments after Romelu Lukaku criticized Tuchel’s methods and admitted he was unhappy at Stamford Bridge.

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Egypt eliminate Ivory Coast from AFCON after penalty shoot-out

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Seven-time African champions, Egypt, have eliminated Ivory Coast at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon on Wednesday. 
Egypt beat Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament following an enthralling 0-0 draw.

The North Africans got the upper hand in the shoot-out when substitute goalkeeper Gabaski saved Eric Bailly’s effort in the third round of spot kicks.
Egypt’s captain, Mohamed Salah, netted the decisive penalty to send them to the last eight. 

Egypt will face their North African neighbours, Morocco, in the quarter finals in Yaounde on Sunday by 5:00pm.

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Newcastle agree £30m for Lyon midfielder, Guimaraes

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Newcastle have agreed a fee with Lyon in the region of £30m to sign midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and are also targeting a deal to sign Brighton defender Dan Burn.

It is understood Brazil international Guimaraes will undergo a medical in his homeland on Wednesday.

A statement said, “Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media reporting an agreement between Newcastle and OL for the transfer of Brazilian international midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.

“In this transfer window period where the slightest rumour is often presented as reality, Olympique Lyonnais reminds that only information officially released by the club is to be taken into consideration.”

It is not the first time Lyon issued such denial over a transfer. In 2019, the club denied they had agreed to sell Ferland Mendy to Real Madrid. Eight days later, the left-back completed a move to the Bernabeu.

The Mapgies have wanted to sign a left-footed centre-back all window to partner Jamaal Lascelles

But they have so far failed in their attempts to sign Sven Botman, Diego Carlos and Benoit Badiashile.

Burn – a boyhood Newcastle fan born in nearby Blyth – is now a top target with less than seven days left of the window.

The 29-year-old has entered the final 18 months of his Brighton contract. The 6ft 7in defender, who joined Brighton from Wigan in 2018, can also play left-back.

Arsenal were among a number of clubs interested in signing Guimaraes, who has also been watched closely by Manchester United and PSG, but Eddie Howe’s side look to be closing in on the 24-year-old’s signature.

Guimaraes has made 25 appearances in all competitions for Lyon this season, registering six assists. He has three caps for the Brazil national team.

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