Tuesday 20 February 2018

Swimmer Ryan Lochte says his immaturity plunged him into 'robbery' scandal

Ryan Lochte said he was very intoxicated during the petrol station incident (AP)
Ryan Lochte said he was very intoxicated during the petrol station incident (AP)

American swimmer Ryan Lochte has said he exaggerated what happened at a Rio petrol station and admitted he was drunk during the incident that caused a scandal at the Olympics.

He has also apologised to Games host Brazil for causing the "ruckus" and taken full responsibility for the "mess".

The 32-year-old acknowledged it was his "immature behaviour" that got him and three team-mates into a controversy that cast a shadow over final days of the Games.

Lochte, in a portion of an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer that aired on US television on Saturday, continued backtracking from a story that he initially described as an armed robbery.

Police have said the swimmers vandalised a toilet after a night of partying and armed guards confronted them and asked them to pay for the damage.

"It's how you want to make it look like," Lochte said.

"Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us just paying for the damages, we don't know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."

But he admitted he understood he was being told that the Americans had to pay for the damages or the police would be called.

At that point, Lauer said: "You're striking a deal. Is that fair?"

"We just wanted to get out of there," Lochte said, adding that the swimmers were frightened.

Lauer told Lochte that his story had changed from one about "the mean streets or Rio" to a negotiated settlement to cover up dumb behaviour.

"That's why I'm taking full responsibility for it, because I over-exaggerated the story," Lochte said. "If I had never done that, we wouldn't be in this mess."

Lochte also said he had lied in telling NBC interviewer Billy Bush the next day that a gun had been cocked and pointed at his forehead. He said that he was still under the influence of alcohol when he talked to Bush.

"I definitely had too much to drink that night and I was very intoxicated," he said.

He said he hoped to continue competitive swimming but accepted it will not be his decision about whether he will be able to be part of the American team again. USA Swimming and the International Olympic Committee could issue sanctions.

Lochte said he regretted how the incident had tarnished Rio and the last week of the Olympics. He also gave an interview to Brazil's main broadcaster Globo on Saturday to apologise for his actions.

"Brazil doesn't deserve that," he said to Globo. "I am sorry that my immaturity caused all this ruckus."

Lochte, who dyed his hair white for the Games and had it turn a light shade of green from the pool, had changed it back to its regular colour for the interview.

As Brazilian police investigated his robbery claim, and eventually held his team-mates for questioning while they sorted out his story, he had tweeted he intended to dye it back.


Press Association

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