REVEALED: How Chats With ‘Drug Supplier’ Landed Blessing Okagbare Into 10-year Ban

REVEALED: How Chats With ‘Drug Supplier’ Landed Blessing Okagbare Into 10-year Ban

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By Agency Report

On Friday, the Athletics Integrity Unit, AIU announced a combined 10 years ban on Nigerian sprinter, Blessings Okagbare.

While the shock and subsequent implications of the ban revibrates, it has emerged that the Olympics silver medallist’s chat with a “drug supplier” led to her sorry situation

Below is how The Punch reported the investigation on January 13, 2022.

Details of a chat between suspended Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, and her arrested ‘drug supplier’, Eric Lira, have been revealed by the United States Justice Department.

In a copy of a document obtained by The PUNCH via the US justice department’s website, 33-year-old Okagbare admitted she ran faster after taking a substance given to her by Eric Lira.

Eric Lira, who has been charged to court, was identified as a 41-year-old “naturopathic” therapist based in El Paso who supplied drugs to two athletes for the “purpose of corrupting” the Tokyo Games.

The chats were discovered when US officials examined a mobile phone in Okagbare’s possession as she re-entered the United States following her ejection from the Tokyo Games.

Messages on Okagbare’s phone also revealed the sprinter had been working with Lira from at least 2020, according to the US court document.

AIU 10-year ban on Okagbare

– Encrypted messages –

The indictment included encrypted correspondence from Okagbare — identified only as “Athlete 1” — and Lira where the Nigerian testifies to the effectiveness of the substances following Olympic trials in Lagos on June 17, where she clocked a wind-assisted 10.63sec in the 100m.

“Hola amigo / Eric my body feel so good / I just ran 10.63 in the 100m on Friday / with a 2.7 wind / I am sooooo happy / Ericccccccc / Whatever you did, is working so well,” Okagbare wrote.

In a later message, Lira said Okagbare was poised to “dominate” in Tokyo.

“What you did . . . is going to help you for the upcoming events,” Lira wrote. “You are doing your part and you will be ready to dominate.”
The indictment also included details of further exchanges between Okagbare and Lira after she is informed of her positive test.

“Call me urgently. . . [t]hey said one of my result came out positive on HGH . . . I don’t understand,” Okagbare wrote.

Suspension

The PUNCH had reported that the Nigerian top athlete Okagbare was suspended for doping on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Athletics Integrity Unit while announcing the suspension said the 32-year-old Nigerian athlete tested positive for a banned substance – human growth hormone.

The anti-doping body said Okagbare tested positive for the prohibited substance in an out-of-competition test on July 19 – four days before the Olympics opened. (End)

Blessing Okagbare was banned five years for use of banned substance during the 2020 Olympics in Japan and also handed another five-year ban for refusal to cooperate with the AIU during their investigation.

At 33 Years, many believe that the ban would signal Okagbare’s retirement from athletics as she would be 43 years of age when the ban expires in 2032.

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