Ryan Lochte will be suspended 10 months, source says
By Steve Visser
(CNN) — US swimmer Ryan Lochte will be suspended from his sport for 10 months and will not be allowed to participate in the 2017 world championship meet as a result of his involvement in a gas station incident in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics, a person with knowledge of the situation told CNN contributor Christine Brennan on Wednesday.
That means the 12-time Olympic medalist will not compete in another world championship until summer 2019. He turns 35 on August 3 that year.
The other three swimmers involved in the episode — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — also face suspensions but not as long as Lochte’s, the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced publicly, told Brennan.
A joint announcement on the suspensions by the United States Olympic Committee and US Swimming, the national governing body for the sport, is expected Thursday, the person said.
On Wednesday, the USOC told CNN it had nothing to report. US Swimming did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The gas-station episode, and Lochte’s “exaggerated” description of it later to newscasters, created an international hubbub and an embarrassment for Olympic officials.
Lochte, 32, initially said he and three other swimmers were the victims of a dramatic robbery when returning by taxi from a late-night party. He later backtracked after a police investigation found the swimmers were stopped by security guards at a gas station after committing an act of vandalism and paid approximately $50 in damages.
Bentz, Conger and Feigen have since publicly shared their version of the events with stories that differ from Lochte’s original tale and essentially match surveillance video released by Brazilian police.
Lochte has apologized for poor behavior at the Rio gas station on the morning of August 14. The group had stopped there to use the bathroom and, finding the door locked, urinated behind the building, during which time Lochte reputedly tore down a framed poster from the building’s wall.
Brazilian authorities have since charged Lochte with falsely reporting a crime, which could bring a fine or up to six months in jail. When his court hearing comes up, Lochte can opt to send a lawyer on his behalf and does not need to appear in court in Rio.
The police investigation began after Lochte had returned to the United States. The three other swimmers were blocked from leaving Brazil and one, Feigen, faced a Brazilian judge for his statements to police regarding the gas station incident.
He agreed to pay $10,800 to a charity to settle the case. Brazilian authorities brought no charges against Bentz or Conger.
Lochte has since taken responsibility publicly, saying the international Olympic scandal was his fault and caused by his “immature behavior.”
“I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that we wouldn’t be in this mess,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer.
Lauer asked Lochte about using the word “victims” in a prior interview, when police have said the swimmers were vandals.
“It’s how you want to make it look like,” Lochte responded. “Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages. We don’t know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”
The swimmer’s sponsorship deals have taken a hit since the incident, with Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal and mattress maker Airweave all saying they would be cutting ties with Lochte after the international incident.
However, he has gained new sponsorships from Pine Bros. cough drops and Robocopp, a crime prevention device maker.
“Just as Pine Bros. is forgiving to your throat, the company asks [the] public for a little forgiveness for an American swimming legend,” the company said in a statement.
He also scored a slot on Season 23 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.
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