Man facing Olympics doping charges argues new U.S. law is unconstitutional

·2-min read

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The first person ever charged under a new law U.S. law allowing prosecutors to target doping in international sporting competitions is arguing the law is unconstitutional, in a bid to persuade a judge to dismiss the charges against him.

Eric Lira, who was arrested in January for distributing performance-enhancing drugs including human growth hormone to athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, argued in a late Tuesday court filing that the 2020 Rodchenkov Act improperly relies on rules drawn up by the United Nations and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"This unprecedented delegation of legislative power is repugnant to our constitution, as it allows a foreign entity to dictate the parameters of a criminal statute in this country," wrote Lira's lawyer Mary Stillinger, adding that the law was too vague and broad.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Rodchenkov Act was named for Grigory Rodchenkov, a former Russian anti-doping laboratory head who turned whistleblower and helped expose Russia's state-sponsored doping. The law lets U.S. prosecutors seek prison terms of up to 10 years and fines of up to $1 million.

Russia has acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping rules, but denies running a state-sponsored doping program.

Lira, a 42-year-old Texas resident, pleaded not guilty in March to charges he obtained misbranded versions of prescription drugs used to boost production of red blood cells and gave them to athletes. He was released on $100,000 bond.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Shofield has not said when she will rule on the motion to dismiss.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)