Today, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming has decided to punish Olympian Ryan Lochte for the scandal which erupted after he alleged that he––and fellow Olympic swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen––were the victims of a violent robbery in Rio de Janeiro after leaving a party on August 14. Authorities later deemed the claims to be false. Both organizations announced they would impose a 10-month suspension on Lochte, barring him from domestic and international national swim team competitions through June 30, 2017. Lochte will be unable to compete in the 2017 national championships and his punishment disqualifies him from competing in the 2017 FINA World Championships. Conger, Bentz and Feigen received four-month suspensions.
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun announced the punishment in a statement: “The behavior of these athletes was not acceptable,” he stressed. “It unfairly maligned our hosts and diverted attention away from the historic achievements of Team USA.” Blackmun noted that none of the swimmers will receive USA Swimming stipends and that they will not accompany Team USA on their visit to the White House. The suspension would require Lochte to forfeit all USOC and USA Swimming funds he received as a result of the gold medal he won at the 2016 Olympics. Reportedly, USOC pays a $25,000 bonus to gold medalists.
The news is the latest blow to Lochte’s once storied swimming career. Lochte lost all four of his major endorsements as a result of the scandal, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren (which removed his images from its website). ESPN’s Darren Rovell estimated the controversy cost Lochte $1 million in endorsement deals. Many younger Olympians emerge with each four-year cycle of the Olympic Games, prompting a fierce battle for a limited amount of endorsements. David Carter, executive director of the Marshall Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California, implied that Lochte, at 32, is unlikely to recover. “Given his age, he is less likely to be competitive going forward,” he said.
After news of the alleged robbery made headlines around the world, Lochte gave an interview to NBC describing getting pulled over in a taxi by men who presented a police badge. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground––they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so––I’m not getting down on the ground,” he said at the time. Most dramatically, Lochte recalled being threatened at gunpoint: “And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead
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