Ryan Lochte, after rehab for alcohol addiction, says he’s a better man

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Ryan Lochte ends his longest break between competitions of his career at the U.S. Championships this week. The last three years since the Rio Olympics have been a roller coaster, he said, and the last year in particular has made him “a better man.”

Lochte said he spent six weeks in rehab for alcohol addiction during a 14-month ban for a May 2018 IV infusion of an illegal amount of a legal substance.

In October, Lochte’s attorney said that the 12-time Olympic medalist had been battling the “disease” of alcohol addiction for many years, and that it had become a destructive pattern for him.

Those comments came after TMZ reported that Lochte was involved in an early morning California hotel incident.

When asked if he still drinks alcohol, Lochte said he had a glass of wine last month to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Liv, but that he doesn’t care for it.

“I’m glad that I went to rehab and got checked out just because it helped me out,” Lochte said Wednesday after swimming a time trial in the 200m individual medley, an event he won at four straight world championships from 2009 through 2015. “It helped put things in perspective in my life. What is really more important than going out to a bar and getting hammered or doing anything like that, I go home and I get to play with my kids and kiss and hold my wife. That, to me, is everything.”

Lochte said he’s been “spotchy” in training the last two months because he wants to be “the dad that’s always there” for wife Kayla Rae Reid, 2-year-old son Caiden ad Liv.

“Swimming has been my second priority,” said Lochte, who turns 35 on Saturday. “This nationals for me is a stepping stone. I’m back in swimming. I just wanted to see where I’m at the swimming world. I have a long journey in the next year.”

MORE: U.S. Swimming Champs TV Schedule

Lochte, who is entered in several events this week, said he does not know whether he will focus on longer events, such as the 400m individual medley, or drop down to shorter distances for what should be his fifth and final Olympic run.

On Wednesday, he clocked a reported 1:57.88 in the 200m IM trial. The time would have qualified for last week’s world championships final (and placed last in that final) and ranks him fourth among Americans this year.

It’s his fastest 200m IM since the Rio Olympics, swimming sparingly outside of separate 10-month and 14-month bans, the former for his Brazil gas-station incident.

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

“When kids that I race against, after practice they can go home and rest,” he said. “After a hard workout, I have to go home and I have to pull some kind of energy out of me and be that loving, playful dad and that great husband that I am. I have no rest. There’s no recovery for me.”

Asked what he would say to those who have lost faith in him, Lochte said it’s understandable.

“I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone,” he said. “I’m doing this for me and my family. I want to go — definitely one of my biggest goals is going to the 2020 Olympics, making my fifth Olympics, and hopefully getting on the podium there. I just want to do this — anything I do from here in the pool and outside the pool is for my family.”

MORE: Dana Vollmer details swimming retirement

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Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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