U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte has been charged by Brazilian authorities for filing a fake robbery report during the recently concluded Olympics in Rio, CNN is reporting.
According to the police statement, Lochte would be duly informed about the legal process and whether he will be required to appear in a Brazilian court. The charges were also sent to the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission, where the four-time Olympian faces potential discipline for his actions.Ryan Lochte had claimed that he was robbed at gunpoint by men brandishing a police badge on August 15 while returning to the Olympic village with fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jimmy Feigen, and Jack Conger. Security footage suggested that the four men had actually been accosted by security after vandalizing a gas station restroom.
The 32-year-old left Brazil after the incident, but co-swimmers Bentz and Conger were not allowed to travel as authorities grilled them about the robbery. Fiegen, who stood staunchly by Ryan, eventually changed his testimony.
In a statement, Feigen had initially substantiated Ryan Lochte's claims, leaving out parts that included urinating behind a building and ripping a framed poster. He backtracked on his previous statement as speculation grew over Ryan Lochte's claims that they were robbed at gunpoint.
A Brazilian court slammed him with a $31,250 fine and proposed over two weeks of community service. However, when he rejected the offer, the judge increased the fine to $46,875. Jimmy Feigen's attorney was able to whittle down his fine to $10,800 and had the Brazilian authorities release his passport.
The other swimmers, Conger and Bentz, also publicly told their own versions of what happened that night. Both stories match the security footage released by Brazilian authorities that showed the men had not been robbed.
The maximum penalty for filing a false crime report is 18 months in prison. If Ryan Lochte is convicted, he could face between one to six months in jail. There is also the option of a fine. The 32-year-old swimmer is also at liberty to appeal any unfavorable decision.
Ryan has since apologized for his behavior at the gas station when he told NBC News that he and three other American swimmers were robbed by men masquerading as police officers. He took full-responsibility for the happenings in Rio, saying he "over-exaggerated" the incident.
There was no robbery, but the security guards did have their weapons drawn to stop the swimmers from leaving the restroom they had vandalized. According to Bentz, they were told to sit down on a nearby sidewalk, at which point, Ryan Lochte stood up and began to yell at the guards. Bentz said a customer stepped up as an interpreter for both sides, telling them they needed to pay for the damages they had caused.
"Understandably, we were frightened and confused during this time. I gave them what I had in my wallet, which was a $20 bill, and Jimmy gave them 100 Reals which is about $50 in total."The United States and Brazil have an extradition treaty that goes back as far as the 60s, but Brazil has a track record of not extraditing its citizens to other nations. Legal experts say the U.S. might adopt the same stance if Lochte is deemed guilty.
Presently, there is the case of Marco Polo del Nero, the head of Brazil's football federation, who has been indicted on fraudulent charges. The 75-year-old has not stepped outside his native Brazil for fear of being apprehended by U.S. authorities for more than 12 months.
According to BBC News, Ryan Lochte lost four lucrative endorsements early this week after his controversy in Rio, but he gained a new sponsor -- Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops. The swimmer will feature in a TV commercial and print advertisements selling the company's pay-off line, "Forgiving on Your Throat."
Pine Bros, Chief Executive, Rider McDowell in statement has asked the public to forgive the legendary American swimmer, who has 12 Olympic medals to his name, bested only by Michael Phelps.
Ryan Lochte still plans to feature at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."We all make mistakes, but they're rarely given front-page scrutiny. He's a great guy who has done incredible work with charities. I am confident that Pine Bros. fans will support our decision to give Ryan a second chance."
[Photo by Michael Sohn/AP Images]