Friday 24 January 2020

Ryan Lochte dropped by Speedo after drunken incident in Rio

Ryan Lochte has come under fire over his version of events (AP)
Ryan Lochte has come under fire over his version of events (AP)

Ryan Lochte has lost his first major sponsor after Speedo USA announced it is dropping the swimmer over a drunken incident during the Rio Olympics that he initially described as an armed robbery.

In a brief statement, Speedo USA said it would donate £38,000 of Lochte's fee to Save The Children to benefit needy youngsters in Brazil.

At first, Lochte said he and three swimming team-mates were robbed after their taxi was pulled over by armed men posing as police the night after the swimming competition ended in Rio de Janeiro.

He has since apologised for embellishing his version of events.

The swimsuit giant said: "While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behaviour that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.

"We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience."

Speedo's decision is likely to be only the first sanction Lochte faces over a night of partying that ended up tarnishing the reputation of the American team and dominating news away from the stadiums and arenas in the final days of the Rio Games.

Both the US Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have indicated Lochte will be punished, perhaps endangering the 32-year-old's hopes of competing in a fifth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020. He could also face the wrath of his other sponsors, which include Ralph Lauren and airweave premium bedding.

The trouble began when media reports emerged on August 14 that Lochte and three other US swimmers - Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen - were robbed at gunpoint when their cab was pulled over by men posing as police. The incident caused a furore in Rio, where street crime was a major issue heading into the Games.

Lochte, in an initial interview to NBC, said: "These guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and they pulled us over.

"They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground - they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn't do anything wrong, so I'm not getting down on the ground."

He went on to say he was robbed of money and his wallet.

That version quickly unravelled when police said the swimmers never reported the incident to authorities and there was scant evidence of a robbery.

Video surveillance emerged showing the swimmers getting into a confrontation with armed security guards over alleged vandalism at a petrol station when their taxi pulled over to let the four athletes use the toilet.

While there have been conflicting versions over whether the guards pulled their weapons on the swimmers, Lochte conceded that his behaviour led to the confrontation, which resulted in the swimmers paying some £38 in US and Brazilian currency before they were allowed to leave.

In his most recent interview with NBC, which was taped in New York and was airing at the weekend, Lochte said he was "very intoxicated" during the incident and that he takes "full responsibility" for his behaviour.

"I over-exaggerated the story," he told NBC. "If I had never done that, we wouldn't be in this mess."

He also apologised in an interview with Brazil's main broadcaster, Globo.


PA Media

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