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Ryan Lochte: It’s crazy I got punished more than other athletes

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Ryan Lochte said little about his 10-month ban when it was handed down in September. Now that it’s almost over, the 12-time Olympic medalist was quoted Friday as being critical of the punishment.

The Times of London set up a quote from Lochte by stating, “some may see Lochte’s crime as being magnified by his reputation.”

“I mean, yeah, it’s kind of crazy because you have incidents where other athletes are beating women or driving recklessly and could kill people, yet what I did was blown up way more than what they had,” Lochte said, according to the report. “Then I get sentenced more and everything, just crazy.”

Lochte’s ban after his Rio gas-station incident, which ends June 30, is four months longer than Michael Phelps‘ ban following his DUI arrest in 2014.

Phelps’ punishment tacked on exclusion from the 2015 World Championships, which took place four months after the end of his formal suspension.

Lochte’s first media comments about the suspension in September were more guarded.

“For someone telling me that I can’t do something that I’ve been doing my entire life, I mean it’s heartbreaking, and it stinks,” he said then.

His attorney was quoted saying, “In my opinion, while the collective sanctions appear to be harsh when considering what actually happened that day — Ryan did not commit a crime, he did not put the public safety at risk, and he did not cheat in his sport — we will leave it to others to evaluate the appropriateness of the penalties.”

Before Lochte received the suspension, he said the incident was “blown way out of proportion” and that media “has taken this to a whole new level.”

In Friday’s article, Lochte criticized the media again.

“The media definitely took it and made it way bigger than it was,” Lochte said, according to the Times. “They did not get their facts straight but they wanted to point a finger and they pointed it at me. I think people had already jumped to conclusions.

“They did their investigations and, as you can see, the bathroom is completely intact. That’s why we went outside in the bushes. Yes I embellished the gun being pointed at my forehead, but it was pointed in my direction, whether it was an inch or five feet. We were all scared and we had to give them money. Whether you want to call it extortion or we had to give them money to pay for the sign that got knocked down is your call. The media drifted away from the facts.”

Lochte returned to competition in April at a meet that fell outside of the scope of his USA Swimming ban. He has said he plans to return to USA Swimming competition in August and try to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team.

Lochte will turn 36 years old during the Tokyo Games, making him older than all but two previous U.S. Olympic swimmers in individual events (Edgar Adams, 1904, and Dara Torres, 2008).

“I took time off. I needed it. My body and mind needed it to recover,” Lochte said in April, according to the Orange County Register, adding he hasn’t been this happy since 2012. “It was just a dog fight for so many years I just got overwhelmed with the sport and lost the passion and the love for it. But now I have it. I have new passion, and I’m finding ways that swimming is fun again.”

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Chloe Kim, Adam Rippon, Rachael Denhollander among Time 100

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PyeongChang medalists Chloe Kim and Adam Rippon were among four Olympians named to the 2018 Time 100, along with former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

The other Olympians were Kevin Durant and Roger Federer on the most influential people list. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt also made it.

Kim made the list as a pioneer. Award-winning chef David Chang, a second-generation Korean American and special correspondent for NBC at the PyeongChang Olympics, wrote an essay about watching the snowboarder take halfpipe gold.

“I felt two things simultaneously: incredibly happy for her — I made her a celebratory churro ice cream sandwich, which I think she called “bomb” — but also sad, because the whole world was about to descend on this now 17-year-old girl,” he wrote. “Asian-­American fans further piled on their hopes that she would shatter Asian stereotypes on her way to the podium. And to top it all off, she was competing in her parents’ birth country, one that is notoriously judgmental of its diaspora.

“And you know what? She crushed it. Blew us all out of the water. Now the best thing Chloe Kim can do is be Chloe Kim. That’s not being selfish—that’s letting people know they don’t have to be anything that anyone says they should be.”

Cher wrote the Time essay for Rippon, the first openly gay figure skater to compete for a U.S. Olympic team.

“Adam is a skater who happens to be gay, and that represents something wonderful to young people,” she wrote. “When I was young, I had no role models—everyone looked like Sandra Dee and Doris Day. There was nobody who made me think, Oh, I could be like them. They represent me. Adam shows people that if you put blood, sweat and tears into what you’re doing, you can achieve something that’s special. You can be special. And I think that’s very brave.”

Like Rippon, the gymnast Denhollander made the Time 100 in the icon category. Olympic champion gymnast Aly Raisman, also a Nassar survivor, penned an essay.

“Rachael was there for each court session of that sentencing, each impact statement and each fellow survivor,” Raisman wrote. “This show of courage and conviction inspired many people to feel less like victims and more like survivors. We still have a long way to go before we achieve all the change that is so desperately needed, and I am grateful to be fighting alongside Rachael, my sister survivor!”

Here are Olympians and Paralympians on past Time 100 lists, counting only athletes who had competed in the Games before being listed:

2017 — Simone Biles, LeBron James, Neymar
2016 — Usain BoltCaitlyn JennerKatie LedeckySania MirzaRonda Rousey
2015 — Abby Wambach
2014 — Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams
2013 — LeBron James, Li Na, Lindsey Vonn
2012 — Novak DjokovicLionel MessiOscar Pistorius
2011 — Lionel Messi
2010 — Yuna KimSerena Williams
2009 — Rafael Nadal
2008 — Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius
2007 — Roger FedererChien Ming-Wang
2006 — Joey Cheek, Steve Nash
2005 — LeBron James
2004 — Lance Armstrong, Paula Radcliffe, Yao Ming
2000 (20th Century) — Muhammad Ali

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McKayla Maroney: I would have starved at Olympics without Larry Nassar

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McKayla Maroney said she thought she “would have starved at the Olympics” in 2012 if Larry Nassar didn’t bring her food.

“Your coaches are just always watching you and wanting to keep you skinny,” Maroney said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie that will air in full on an hourlong “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. “There’s just other things about the culture that are also messed up that he used against us.”

Past U.S. national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi also gave interviews for the Dateline special “Silent No More.”

Maroney laughed when she said Nassar bought her a loaf of bread.

Her comments were shown on TODAY on Thursday, less than a day after her 2012 Olympic champion teammate Jordyn Wieber testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing to discuss the roles of national governing bodies — like USA Gymnastics — in protecting athletes following the Nassar case.

“We couldn’t smile or laugh in training,” Wieber said at the hearing. “We were even afraid to eat too much in front of our coaches, who were pressured to keep us thin.”

Maroney, Wieber and other U.S. national team gymnasts had personal coaches and convened multiple times per year at the Karolyi ranch in Texas for national team camps. Wieber’s personal coach, John Geddert, was the 2012 Olympic team coach.

Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in January and is facing a criminal investigation after Nassar, who molested girls at Geddert’s gym in Michigan, was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison on Jan. 24. Geddert said he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.

“Our athletes, like McKayla, are the heart and soul of USA Gymnastics, and every effort has been made to support our athletes’ development and provide the opportunities for them to achieve their dreams.” USA Gymnastics said in a statement to NBC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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