water polo nipple slip US swimmers to face IOC disciplinary commission
US swimmer Ryan Lochte told NBC’s Matt Lauer it was his fault that a fabricated story about a robbery caused an international Olympics scandal.
“I over exaggerated that story and if I had never done that we wouldn’t be in this mess,” he said in a snippet of the interview aired on NBC on Saturday evening.
“None of this would have happened,” he added about the aftermath in which three of his fellow swimmers were questioned by Brazilian police and one was ordered to donate nearly $11,000 to a Brazilian charity.
Lochte, 32 and a four time Olympian, blamed his “immature behavior.”
Lauer asked Lochte about using the word “victims” in a prior interview when police have said the swimmers were vandals.
“It’s how you want to make it look like,” Lochte responded. “Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages. We don’t know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”
NBC said it was set to air more of the interview during its Olympics coverage. Lochte also spoke with Brazilian network Globo, which aired its interview Saturday night.
The disgraced swimmer told the Brazilian channel that he felt the weight of responsibility for his actions.
“If I hadn’t exaggerated the story or told the entire story, none of this would have happened,” he said in the interview.
“I was coming from the France house, I was highly intoxicated, and I made immature accusations. If I had not done that, none of this would have happened.”
He said that he did not ask his teammates to corroborate his story, and apologized “110%” to “the gas station owner, to Brazilian police, to the people of Rio and Brazil,
everyone that came together to put on these wonderful games.
“I just want to say I am truly, 110% sorry.”The International Olympic Committee has set up a disciplinary commission to investigate Lochte and the three other US swimmers involved in an altercation at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro last Sunday. The commission will determine if the swimmers will face any punishment.
Lochte’s shifting account of the incident and the resulting fallout has threatened to steal the spotlight away from a Games that the IOC president on Saturday declared “iconic.”
Lochte said he and James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were robbed in the early morning hours of August 14 as they returned from a party.
After taking a public pounding for reporting a robbery story that police say was fabricated, Lochte apologized Friday on Instagram for “not being more careful and candid” in his description.
The 12 time Olympic medalist said he accepted responsibility for his role in it and had “learned some valuable lessons.”
Endorsements: Will sponsors flee?
Even though Lochte has banked on his edgy image, the scandal could put a dent in Lochte’s current endorsements with Speedo, Airweave and Polo Ralph Lauren.
“I do think this is going to have a lasting impact on Ryan Lochte, and it’s not going to be good,” Christine Brennan, CNN contributor and sports analyst, said Friday.
Speedo said in a statement that it is following the situation closely. The swimwear company said it has “a policy not to comment on ongoing legal investigations. We suggest you contact his team for additional information.”
The mattress company Airweave is standing by the swimmer, for now.
“We do not allow unlawful behavior and will continue to monitor the investigation closely. I respect the athletic performance of Ryan, and as long as he is a respectable athlete, he will remain a US ambassador for Airweave as long as our partnership agreement remains effective. Our focus is on supporting Team USA, and our hope is people will remain focused on cheering on the athletes who still have events to compete in,” said a statement from Airweave Chief Executive Motokuni Takaoka.
The Airweave/Lochte partnership was already scheduled to end this year.
Clothing giant Ralph Lauren said it was working closely with the US Olympic Committee on the developments in Rio and is reviewing the situation.
“He’s certainly on the back end of his swimming career,” Brennan said. “I just cannot imagine any of these sponsors re upping,
if they decide to stay with him.”.