Brazilian police have charged American swimmer Ryan Lochte with filing a false statement about being robbed at gunpoint during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. A police statement recommends that the court issues a summons for the six-time Olympic gold medalist, who will be able to choose whether to introduce a defense in Brazil.
Lochte, a member of the US’s successful 4×200 meters freestyle relay team at Rio 2016, flew out of Brazil after the Games before he could be questioned about the alleged false claim.
He was among four US swimmers that initially claimed they had been robbed at gunpoint when returning to the Olympic Village, before closed circuit television footage emerged of the men vandalizing a petrol station following a night out.
The incident provoked outrage in Brazil, as well as negative reactions across the world.
Lochte has been accused of having pulled a metal advertisement in a frame to the ground and it is then claimed he “stood up and began to yell at guards” after they were caught.
He has admitted he “over-exaggerated” what had happened, although he has continued to claim he was not telling an outright lie.
The penalty for falsely filing a crime report carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison under Brazilian law, and Lochte can be tried in his absence.
However, it is understood that if Lochte did attend the hearing he could agree to pay a fine like fellow swimmer Jimmy Feigen, who was with him during the incident.
Feigen was briefly detained before agreeing to donate a sum of nearly $11,000 to a Brazilian charity.
The US and Brazil have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1960s, but the latter nation has flouted this in the past.
US authorities could take the same stance if Lochte is found guilty.
Four of the 32-year-old’s sponsors have already ended their associations with him, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren.
One brand appears to have seen the debacle as an opportunity however, with Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops saying today it has signed Lochte for an advertising campaign.
Unspecified further action is expected to the taken by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), while the International Olympic Committee have already opened a Disciplinary Commission.
Two of the other swimmers involved, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were prevented from flying out of Brazil until they had been questioned by police.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz