Twelve-time Olympic swimming medalist Ryan Lochte reportedly has been suspended 10 months for his role in an embarrassing incident during last month’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, in which he embellished details of a gas station confrontation with armed security guards, setting off a week of international intrigue that threatened to overshadow the second week of the Summer Games.
Lochte’s suspension, first reported by TMZ, was expected to be the longest of the four U.S. swimmers involved in the Rio de Janeiro incident, which occurred in the early morning of Aug. 14, hours after the Olympic swimming competition ended. Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were with Lochte at the gas station, where Lochte allegedly vandalized the station, leading to the confrontation with security.
Conger, a swimmer at the University of Texas, will be suspended for four months, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The swimmers’ suspensions are expected to be announced officially Thursday, in a joint statement by the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming.
In Lochte’s case, his 10-month suspension would keep him out of the 2017 World Championships, as he would miss the qualifying period during which the U.S. team will be chosen. When Michael Phelps was suspended six months in Oct. 2014 following his second DUI arrest, he also missed Worlds the following summer.
Conger’s suspension, on the other hand, will not prevent him from swimming at Worlds, according to the person with knowledge of the situation.
Lochte, 32, initially said he and the other swimmers were pulled over in a taxi by armed men with police badges who demanded money. At one point, he said, a gun was pointed at his forehead. The story of the apparent armed robbery of one of the most decorated Olympians in history caused a media sensation and reinforced stereotypes of Rio as a lawless landwere foreigners were unsafe.
But as Brazilian officials began to investigate Lochte’s tale, he was forced to alter his narrative multiple times, eventually acknowledging he “over-exaggerated” elements of it. The incident happened at the gas station, not on a highway, and the man who pointed a gun in Lochte’s direction was not a robber, but an armed security guard demanding restitution for the advertising sign Lochte had torn down.
While Lochte was able to depart Brazil the day after the alleged incident, Bentz and Conger were pulled from their initial flight back to the states and were forced to give statements before being allowed to leave the following night. Feigen, meantime, was forced to pay a fine of around $11,000 before being granted permission to leave.
Lochte lost his major endorsements following the incident, and recently was announced as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” He has said he intends to continue his career as a competitive swimmer.