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Nigerian sprinter Ejowvokoghene Divine Oduduru has been notified by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) that he has tested positive for two banned substances. The AIU is seeking a six-year competition ban.
The 26-year-old was identified as athlete 1 in an investigatin by the AIU, while athlete 2 was the already banned Blessing Okagbare also of Nigeria. Both were training in the US and both apparently received their PEDs from naturopathic therapist Eric Lira.
Okagbare has already been suspended for 11 years. Oduduru is provinsionally suspended immediately.
An AIU statement reads, “Based on the information in the complaint, including text conversations imaged from Okagbare’s mobile phone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and further evidence obtained from the AIU investigation, the AIU alleges that Oduduru is ‘Athlete 2’ identified in the complaint.
As the process is ongoing, the AIU will make no further comment on the matter at this time.”
Oduduru competes primarily over the 100m and 200m distance events. His personal bests are 9.86 and 19.73. His indoors and outdoors 200m bests are national records that date back to 2019. The former Texas Tech Red Raider athlete is also a two-time NCAA champion.
Perhaps the reason he claimed to be injured in Dec. 2022 was due to the investigation by the AIU. He was registered to compete in the men’s 200m at the Sports Festival in Asaba. However, Oduduru apparently withdrew at the last minute due to injury. “I want to say sorry to my fans and to those who were expecting to see me participate at this championship (Sports Festival). I actually prepared for it, few days back I was doing my sprints workout, preparing for the competition. I irritated my hamstring. I was trying to see if I could run with it.”
Blessing Oghnewresem Okagbare-Otegheri was originally charged with three doping offences.
She was already suspended during the Tokyo Olympic Games, having tested positive for a human growth hormone (HGH) during an out-of-competition test in July. The 32-year-old (two days shy of her 33rd birthday) sprinter tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a red blood cell booster, which is much more common with middle and long-distance athletes.
The AIU charged her with a third item: not cooperating with the investigation.
If Graceful was a person🥰😍😍😍💕💞❤ pic.twitter.com/dcJI2ZFf7e— Blessing Okagbare MFR (@mountain214) February 4, 2023
Both athletes repeatedly use social media to espouse their following of an apparent god. Okagbare tweeted, “Nothing to prove to anyone….. My mission is to please God.”
Okagbare had appealled her four-year provisional suspension, however, the B sample resulted in another positive. She was set to serve out her four-year doping ban. The latest will surely end her career and call in to question all of her accomplishments.
Okagbare specialised in the 100m sprint as well as the long jump. She won the preliminary round of the Tokyo Olympic Games 100m, before receiving the provisional suspension.
She is a six-time African Championships gold medallist and took silver during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the long jump.
Her 100m best is 10.79 and 22.04 in the 200m, which are both national records. She is also a World Athletics Championships silver medallist in the long jump event. Her best jump is 7.00m.
The AIU had banned 10 Nigerians from Tokyo as the athletes were not tested rigorously enough in advance of the Games.
Eric Lira and the Rodchenkov Act
Like Oduduru and Okagbare, Eric Lira finished first in something too. He was the very first to be charged under the Rodchenkov Act for peddling performance enhancing drugs.
The El Paso, Texas-based naturopathic therapist, faced two federal charges that could put him away in prison for a maximum of 15 years.
His prosecution is the firs one under the Rodchenkov Act, which was signed into law on Dec. 4, 2020.
Named after whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov — the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory who exposed that country’s state-sponsored doping — the legislation aimed to punish those who aid in doping in sport.
Communications between Okagbare and Lira over encrypted phone messages revealed that the two worked together for her to dope.
Lira lists on his LinkedIn account that he is a Kinisiologist and Naturopathic ND with Avanti Health Care Services in Ciudad, Jaurez, Chihauhua, Mexico. Apparently, his company Med Sport LLC located in El Paso, Texas is no longer active. Federal prosecutors charged him with supplying the athletes PEDs in Jan., 2022. Apparently, Lira was not licenced in Texas or New York, where the charges were laid.
Investigators said that the 41-year-old Lira got the drugs from Mexico and South America.
He is also charged with conspiring with others to violate U.S. drug misbranding and adulteration laws, which carries a maximum prison term of five years.