In a joint statement, the United States Olympic Committee and U.S.A. Swimming announced that Ryan Lochte is suspended from swimming for 10 months, effectively causing him to miss the 2017 World and National Swimming Championships.
U.S.A. Swimming also took away Lochte’s medal award money, as well as barred him from practicing in the team’s training facilities, or receiving any stipends or support from U.S.A. Swimming for the duration of the suspension. He also must perform twenty hours of community service.
In addition, Gunnar Bentz was handed a four-month suspension. Even though he violated the team code of conduct for slipping out of the athlete’s village after being told that only those twenty-one and older could leave, he will not miss any major swimming competitions, though he is required to perform ten hours of community service. Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were also given four-month suspensions. Like Lochte, the three men were banned from using the team’s training facilities and were stripped of their training stipends.
“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,” U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement today. “Each of the athletes has accepted responsibility for his actions and accepted the appropriate sanctions.”
The trouble began on the final night of swimming when the four athletes after competition took a taxi. They told the driver to pull over at a gas station. There, police said they damaged mirrors and broke other items, as well as engaged in public urination. The athletes initially refused to stay, but security asked the taxi to leave, and a person had to step in to translate between the simmers and the guards. The four men left behind money at the site.
Lochte initially told NBC News that they went to the gas station to use the restroom. When they got back to the taxi can, men with guns and badges approached and told them to get down. He later changed his story, saying that the guns were not pointed at theirs heads and that he was too intoxicated to tell the correct version of the story.
Brazilian authorities recommended that Lochte and Feigen be charged with false reporting. Wgile that does not seem to be happening, U.S.A Swimming says they are taking the incident seriously as a responsibility to the nature of the incident.
“It’s our responsibility to take action that reflects the seriousness of what happened,” U.S.A. Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said in the statement today after announcing the suspensions. “Unfortunately, this storyline took attention away from the athletes who deserved it the most. These athletes took accountability for their mistakes and are committed to represent themselves and our country with the great character and distinction we expect.”