Ryan Lochte has just received a 10-month suspension for fabricating a story related to the now-infamous incident at a Rio gas station in the last days of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. It’s been a wild ride for Lochte in the last few months. Following the ordeal in Rio, he has joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars and received an offer to pose in Playgirl. What does Ryan’s suspension mean for any of this and for his future?
The real story about the incident that led to Lochte’s suspension is still not fully known. ESPN reported that Ryan’s initial account of the “robbery” included a statement that he and the other swimmers were in a taxi that was forced off the road. He said that he and the men with him had been robbed by the person in the other car and that a gun had been put to his head.
The Associated Press quoted him later describing the incident in this way.
“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over. 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.
“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”
Lochte later changed his account, stating that they had not been forced off the road and that the gun had been pointed in his direction, not at his head.
As Ryan rewrote his account of the incident, Brazilian police came forward and charged him with false allegations. The version of the incident they told painted a bad picture of Lochte and the other swimmers. They stated that the men had arrived at a Rio gas station very drunk and proceeded to vandalize the premises and urinate on the side of the building. They indicated that Ryan and his friends were approached by a security guard with a gun who insisted that they pay for the damages. He said they did so and were allowed to leave.
Rio police also indicated that when they questioned Ryan Lochte and the other men about the “robbery,” they were unable to provide important details and blamed their patchy recollection on their inebriated state.
A USA Today investigation found that Lochte and his friends were kept from leaving the gas station by an armed man who had a badge and forced them out of the taxi. They were ordered to pay for a damaged sign. They also stated that the man did aim his gun at Ryan’s head, but didn’t place it against his forehead. They also found no evidence of the swimmers entering the locked restroom.
Lochte’s suspension will last 10 months according to TMZ. They also report that the other swimmers received suspensions, but they were shorter than Ryan’s. They didn’t report on the exact length of their suspensions but indicated that at least one was for four months.
Reaction to the length of Lochte’s suspension is sure to be mixed. It is longer than the suspension received by Michael Phelps after two DUI arrests. Phelps received a six-month suspension. Many felt that Ryan’s suspension should be less than what Phelps received because, unlike Phelps, he did not put anyone’s life in danger. There were reportedly some who were involved in the decision about the Rio incident that felt the length of Lochte’s suspension was too long.
UPDATE: CNN is reporting that Ryan Lochte has also been banned from participation in the 2017 world championship.
[Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]