Ryan Lochte and three U.S. teammates receive penalties for lying about Rio robbery
A day after news broke that Ryan Lochte will be suspended from swimming for 10 months, the three teammates who accompanied him on a night of partying at the Summer Olympics have received their punishment for fabricating stories of a robbery.
Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen were handed lighter sanctions, with USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee suspending them for four months.
All four men will have their monthly stipends withheld, and none will be allowed to accompany the U.S. team on its post-Games visit to the White House.
“As we have said previously, the behavior of these athletes was not acceptable,” said Scott Blackmun, the USOC’s chief executive. “It unfairly maligned our hosts and diverted attention away from the historic achievements of Team USA.”
The incident took place in the early morning hours as the swimmers returned to the athletes’ village after a night of partying at the French House.
Lochte — who changed his story several times in the first few days — initially said their cab was pulled over by armed men posing as police.
The claim stung Brazilian authorities already sensitive about budget cutbacks and other problems with the Games. Rio police subsequently alleged the Americans had not been robbed at all, but instead had stopped at a gas station, damaged a bathroom and been confronted by employees.
The controversy dominated headlines during the final days of the Games, overshadowing much of the action, including a historic victory by U.S. wrestler Helen Maroulis.
“Unfortunately, this storyline took attention away from the athletes who deserved it the most,” said Chuck Wielgus, the executive director for USA Swimming. “These [swimmers] took accountability for their mistakes and are committed to represent themselves and our country with the great character and distinction we expect.”
Lochte, who must perform 20 hours of community service before reinstatement, will spend at least part of his suspension appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.”
The 20-year-old Bentz must serve 10 hours of community service for breaking the USA Swimming’s curfew for team members under 21 who stay in the village.
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