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Swimming

Ryan Lochte Says Ban Was Too Harsh, and Other Dumb Stuff

In new comments on the Rio scandal, Lochte said, "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."

by Liam Daniel Pierce
Jun 2 2017, 9:43pm

Ryan Lochte's 10-month suspension from USA Swimming is winding down, and outside of announcing he is soon to be responsible for a tiny human, we haven't heard much from him. Until today, that is, when he made the cardinal sin of opening is mouth.

Lochte, you might recall, was suspended for drunkenly peeing on/destroying a gas station in Rio during last summer's Olympics. In a chain of events that might take 10 months to describe in full detail, Lochte told his mom about the incident almost immediately, adding a couple crucial and completely made-up details: he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint by fake Rio cops. His mother spoke to the press, and it obviously became a big story because, holy shit, Ryan Lochte held at gunpoint by fake Rio cops. Then Lochte, while still drunk, went on NBC with Billy Bush, and retold the whole lie.

Now with the proper amount of context for what we're talking about—Lochte's suspension—and why we're talking about it—he should probably just not talk to the press, like, ever—we regret to inform you that Ryan Lochte spoke to the press.

Lochte spoke to the Times of London and was presented with a potential land mine that was very, very easy to avoid, and stepped right on it.

Here's the theory that was presented to him: "Some may see Lochte's crime as being magnified by his reputation."

OK. This is an easy one. "Maybe, but I did mess up, so I've got to own that. I'm going to be a dad soon, and I learned an important lesson about responsibility that I hope to pass along to my son." Personally speaking, I think that would've been a great response.

Here's what he did say:

"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. "Then I get sentenced more and everything, just crazy."

Oof. Here's some more things he said, emphasis mine:

"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."

The media actually drifted toward the facts after you lied to Billy Bush, but OK.

Unable to help himself, Lochte is basically asking us to praise him for not committing domestic violence or reckless driving—perhaps a not-so-subtle jab at teammate Michael Phelps, who got a lighter suspension when he was charged with a DUI in 2014. Phelps was hit with a six-month ban, and that difference in ban time could have rubbed Lochte the wrong way. Whatever the case, the "at least I didn't [x]" is never a good look.

In the buildup to Lochte returning to USA Swimming-sanctioned competition on June 30, he's declared that he's ratcheting up his Olympics 2020 training, citing his upcoming fatherhood as motivation.

"I want my boy to see his dad do what he loves to do," Lochte says. His son will be two years old at the time, and hopefully in better control of his bladder.