U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte has issued an apology for claiming he was robbed at gunpoint early Sunday morning after a night of partying, when in actuality he and three teammates were detained at gunpoint after vandalizing a Rio gas station.
According to USA Today’s Christine Brennan, an apology was the only way for Lochte to avoid a lifetime ban by USA Swimming, the sport’s governing body in this country. Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist who has competed in four Olympic Games, had said before last weekend’s events that “I’m not done with this sport” and that he would again swim competitively for the United States, a tall order at age 32.
In his apology, Lochte did not go so far as to admit he made up the robbery tale. He instead used carefully parsed words to admit a lapse in judgment. On his Instagram page, Friday’s apology sits two squares to the left of an earlier post in which he writes “it is true that my teammates and I were the victims of a robbery early Sunday morning.”
Earlier Friday, the attorney for Jimmy Feigen – one of the three U.S. swimming teammates who were with Lochte on the night in question – announced that his client will pay about $10,800 to an unnamed Brazilian charity and then leave the country.
Lochte, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger already had flown back to the United States.
Following is the full text of Lochte’s statement, posted to his Instagram account:
I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend – for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics. I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.
It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier – and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event. I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.
I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio ’16 Host Committee, and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that these Olympic Games provided a lifetime of great new memories. There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes.
This report includes information from the Associated Press.