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Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice has charged a Texas man with distributing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's the first criminal charge brought under an anti-doping law that went into effect last December, according to the DOJ.

Details: The complaint alleges that Eric Lira, a "kinesiologist and naturopathic" therapist in El Paso, Texas, distributed PEDs to at least two athletes ahead of the delayed 2020 Games, held last year in Tokyo.

  • Lira allegedly sourced PEDs such as human growth hormone and erythropoietin, known as a "blood building" drug, from Central and South America.
  • According to prosecutors, in July, one recipient of Lira's PEDs tested positive for human growth hormone and subsequently was "provisionally suspended" from the competition.
  • Lira is in custody and scheduled in court Wednesday, per the DOJ. A lawyer for Lira was not immediately identifiable.

Context: Lira is charged under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which bans involvement in doping schemes at major international sports competitions.

  • He faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years for two charges.

What they're saying: "Today, this Office sends a strong message to those who would taint the Games and seek to profit from that corruption,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said according to the press release.

Go deeper

China makes a show of opening up the internet for the Olympics

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Chinese government has promised Olympic athletes free access to social media platforms and other websites in the Olympic Village in Beijing, but internet use may still be fraught with restrictions and risks.

Why it matters: China's aim in temporarily opening its "great firewall" is simply to boost its global reputation ahead of the Games, not to champion an open internet, experts say. And they expect heavy surveillance of online activity to continue, even for visitors who are allowed to access sites that would otherwise be blocked.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."