Friday 23 March 2018

Swimmer Lochte apologises for Rio behaviour

American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, front, and Jack Conger leave a police station in Rio Photo: AP
American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, front, and Jack Conger leave a police station in Rio Photo: AP

Peter Prengaman

US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte apologised yesterday for his behaviour surrounding an early-morning incident at a Rio de Janeiro petrol station, saying he should have been more "careful and candid" about how he described what happened after a night of partying with his teammates.

Lochte said in a lengthy post on Instagram that he was apologising for his role in taking the focus away from other Olympic athletes.

Ryan Lochte Photo: Reuters
Ryan Lochte Photo: Reuters

"This was a situation that could and should have been avoided," Lochte said. "I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons."

The 12-time Olympic medalist reiterated his view that a stranger pointed a gun at him and demanded money to let him leave a petrol station. Lochte had called it a gunpoint robbery; Brazilian police said he and three other swimmers vandalised a bathroom while intoxicated and were confronted by armed security guards.

"Regardless of the behaviour of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry," Lochte said.

Lochte and the other swimmers could face sanctions from USA Swimming, including fines or suspension. The group, as well as Olympic officials, publicly expressed disappointment.

Lochte (32) has said he plans to take an extended break after the Rio Games and relocate to Los Angeles. Swimming's biggest meet next year is the world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Until his apology, Lochte had been silent about the situation after he returned to the United States early this week.

Two of the other swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were on their way to the US yesterday after being held in Brazil to testify.

The fourth, Jimmy Feigen, made a deal with a judge to make a $10,800 (€9,540) payment and leave, his lawyer said.

Local organisers and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said they accepted Lochte's apology.

"My feeling is one of pity," Mayor Eduardo Paes said. "They did not represent the American athletes that are here."

Irish Independent

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