Twelve-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte has agreed to serve a 10-month suspension due to his involvement in a gas station incident during the Rio Olympics.
He will also be ineligible for the 2017 world championship meet, and he will have to forfeit all United State Olympic Committee and USA Swimming medal funding for the gold medal he earned as part of the men’s 4×200 freestyle relay in Rio.
Other sanctions against Lochte include no monthly stipend and no direct support or access to USOC training facilities during the suspension. Lochte will also have to perform 20 hours of community service.
“We accept the decision as believe it is in everyone’s best interest to move forward,” Jeff Ostrow, Lochte’s attorney, said in a statement sent exclusively to USA TODAY Sports. “Ryan is grateful to be a member of the U.S. Olympic Team and USA Swimming. He recognizes his lapse in judgment, and is looking forward to continuing his training, volunteer work with kids, and resuming his swimming career next year with an eye toward representing his country at the 2020 Olympic games in Japan.
“That said, in my opinion, while the collective sanctions appear to be harsh when considering what actually happened that day – Ryan did not commit a crime, he did not put the public safety at risk, and he did not cheat in his sport – we will leave it to others to evaluate the appropriateness of the penalties.”
The other three swimmers with Lochte that night at the gas station — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen — will be suspended from domestic and international USA Swimming national team competitions for four months. They too will lose their monthly stipends and access to USOC training facilities during that span.
All four swimmers will not be allowed to visit the White House alongside fellow U.S. Olympians, and all four are not permitted to attend USA Swimming’s annual Golden Goggles event this year.
These disciplinary measures were announced by both the USOC and USA Swimming Thursday morning.
“As we have said previously, the behavior of these athletes was not acceptable. It unfairly maligned our hosts and diverted attention away from the historic achievements of Team USA,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement. “Each of the athletes has accepted responsibility for his actions and accepted the appropriate sanctions. We look forward to focusing our energy on the Paralympic Games and the incredible men and women representing our country in Rio.”
“During an otherwise extraordinary Olympic Games, a small group of athletes had lapses in judgement and conduct that are unacceptable and not consistent with our expectations.”
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SOURCE: USA Today, Nicole Auerbach