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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