The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Swimming have confirmed that swimmer Ryan Lochte has been given a 10 month suspension for claiming to have been robbed at gunpoint during the Olympic Games.
Lochte’s teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen, who were all involved in the incident, have each been given fourth month suspensions.
Reports emerged last night regarding the length of Lochte’s sanction, which came after USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun promised last month that “further action” would be taken against the swimmers having claimed they had let down America and detracted from the success of the Games.
Lochte 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.Confirmation of the 10 month suspension will mean Lochte has been ruled out of competing at the United States’ National Championships next year, which will result in the six-time Olympic gold medalist missing out on the World Championships in Budapest.He will receive no direct support or access to training centers during the 10 months, and will not receive a monthly stipend – a sum of money – from USA Swimming or the USOC.
Lochte has also agreed to forfeit medal funding which he would have been entitled to for winning gold at Rio 2016 in the men’s 4×200 meter freestyle relay.
Bentz, Conger and Feigen have each been suspended for four months, which will run until December 31.
Similarly to Lochte they will not be able to use USOC facilities or receive a monthly stipend.
Each of the four swimmers will not be able to attend USA Swimming’s annual “Golden Goggles” event, nor join Team USA for its White House visit in connection with the Rio 2016 Games.
Lochte will also be made to perform 20 hours of community service, while Bentz will serve 10, having violated a USA Swimming Olympic Village curfew rule placed on athletes under the age of 21.
“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,” said Blackmun.
“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.”
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) have acknowledged the sanctions imposed by USOC and USA Swimming, but declined to issue further punishment to the swimmers.
“Regarding the case of the four US swimmers whose behavior at Rio 2016 has resulted in suspensions from the US Olympic Committee and USA Swimming, and now that the key facts have been established, FINA considers the sanctions applied as proportionate, adequate and sufficient,” a FINA statement read.
“FINA notes the addition of Community Service, as imposed by the IOC Disciplinary Commission.
“In light of these measures, FINA will not apply additional sanctions and will implement those now imposed on the swimmers at all FINA events.”
Lochte flew out of Brazil after the Games before he could be questioned about the alleged false claim.
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 having been summoned last month.
Four of the 32-year-old’s sponsors have already ended their associations with him, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren.
By Michael Pavitt
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz