Ryan Lochte said his 10-month suspension is “heartbreaking” and “it stinks,” but he will continue training and hopes to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, made the comments shortly after it was announced Thursday that he was suspended through next June after his gas-station incident at the Rio Olympics.
“I’ve been swimming my entire life, and I’ve never taken a break,” Lochte said on The Ellen Show for an episode that is scheduled to air Monday. “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. But I definitely know there’s so much more that I want to accomplish in the sport of swimming. I do know that I’m still going to be training, and when I do come back, I’m definitely going to be a better swimmer and a better person.”
Lochte added that he had been “mentally tired” the past year, so the suspension will afford him the opportunity to take a “mental break.”
He also reached out to longtime friendly rival Michael Phelps, who was suspended for six months two years ago after a DUI arrest.
“I knew his answer was going to be really honest, just because of our relationship over the years,” Lochte said. “He said, ‘It’s not what you did, it’s what you do now that will shape who you are.’ I took that to heart. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to better myself, make sure I don’t make those mistakes and become a better person.”
Lochte added that he committed to “Dancing with the Stars” “one month” before the gas-station incident and fallout but wavered on whether to do the show in recent weeks.
“There was a certain time where I was like, is this the right idea?” Lochte said. “I realized I reached the lowest point of my entire life, that I never thought I would go to. I was in a really dark place. I didn’t know if I should come out, just hide my entire life. But I reached to my family and my friends. They kept me positive, saying you have to do this. You have to get out there. You can’t always hide the rest of your life and just embrace this opportunity.”Follow @nzaccardi