As we reported Thursday, Ryan Lochte felt his punishment come down from the US Olympic Committee. The swimmer will forfeit $100,000 and a chance to swim at next year’s world championships as part of the penalty for his drunken encounter at a gas station in Brazil during last month’s Olympics.
The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming announced the penalties Thursday. Lochte is banned through the end of June. That means he won’t be able to qualify for July’s world championships, which normally don’t draw top fields in the year after the Olympics.
“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. “Each of the athletes has accepted responsibility for his actions and accepted the appropriate sanctions.”
Lochte will also get no monthly funding from either the USOC or USA Swimming. He can’t access USOC training centers, must perform 20 hours of community service and will miss Team USA’s post-Olympics trip to the White House.
Lochte’s attorney, Jeff Ostrow, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from media outlets.
Agreeing to four-month suspensions were Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, who were with Lochte at the gas station. Those sanctions, which end Dec. 31, also strip funding and training access and preclude them from the White House visit.
Bentz, 20, will also serve 10 hours of community service for violating a curfew rule for athletes under 21. He released a statement on Twitter saying he’d learned his lesson and was anxious to move on.
I have learned a lot throughout this experience and look forward to a great season with my UGA teammates! pic.twitter.com/MzU0ht6Ffn
— Gunnar Bentz (@TheGunnyBunny) September 8, 2016
The USOC gives a $25,000 bonus to Olympic gold-medal winners, and USA Swimming has awarded a $75,000 gold-medal bonus at past Olympics.
But that money pales in comparison to what Lochte lost last month when key sponsors, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, abandoned the 32-year-old in the wake of his actions at the gas station, then his rapidly changing accounts of what really happened. Estimates have put the financial hit for those losses at around $1 million.
Swimming’s international federation, FINA, called the sanctions “proportionate, adequate and sufficient,” and said it had no plans to augment them. The International Olympic Committee has referred the case to its ethics commission, which is still reviewing the case.
While the near-10-month suspension is four months longer than what Michael Phelps received in 2014 for his second DUI, anything short of a ban from the next Olympics – never a realistic option – isn’t enough to truly derail Lochte’s career, either in or out of the pool.
Despite his embarrassment, Lochte has maintained a high profile, posting regularly on social media and accepting a spot on the upcoming season of “Dancing With The Stars.” His biggest comment about this incident was:
“I’m excited for, not only myself, but everyone else to forget about what happened and to move forward. I think that’s what the biggest thing is – what we’re gonna do is just move forward and show off my dancing skills.”
Last month, Brazilian police charged Lochte with filing a false robbery report, but he is unlikely to return to Brazil to defend himself.
Lochte’s gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay was one of 121 overall medals the United States won at the Olympics, yet his actions at the gas station, combined with his shifting stories and the resulting investigation, overshadowed a large portion of the second half of the Rio Games.
“When Code of Conduct infractions occur, it’s our responsibility to take action that reflects the seriousness of what happened,” USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said. “Unfortunately, this story line took attention away from the athletes who deserved it the most.”