American swimmer Ryan Lochte has been banned from the sport for 10 months after falsely claiming he was robbed at gunpoint during the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. He was also banned from participating in the 2017 world championships.
The 32-year-old said he and three team-mates were held up at a petrol station during a night out. But police questioned the account after CCTV footage showed the group had vandalised the petrol station.
USA Swimming and the US Olympic Committee (USOC) have also banned the three other swimmers involved. Gunnar Bentz, Jimmy Feigen and Jack Conger have each been banned for four months.
The sanctions were handed down for breaches of each organisation’s code of conduct.
“The behaviour of these athletes was not acceptable,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “It unfairly maligned our hosts and diverted attention away from the historic achievements of Team USA.”
Lochte’s punishment means he will not be able to qualify for the 2017 World Championships. The six-time Olympic gold medallist admitted he had “over-exaggerated” his original account.
While he returned to the US in the days following the incident, Bentz and Conger were pulled off a US-bound plane by police, though they were subsequently allowed to leave after questioning.
Feigen agreed to pay US$11,000 (£8,250) to a Brazilian charity after he was allowed to return home.
Late last month, Brazilian police charged Lochte with making a false statement, though his lawyer later said the swimmer will not respond to the charge.
The crime carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and Lochte can be tried in his absence.
Several sponsors, including clothing manufacturer Speedo, dropped the swimmer in the wake of the revelations. (BBC)