U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun says further action is coming in the matter of 12-time swimming medalist Ryan Lochte and his three U.S. teammates, whose story of a robbery overshadowed the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Blackmun offered no details on what disciplinary action may be coming, but he made no effort to hide his frustration with the matter.
“They let down our athletes,” Blackmun said. “They let down Americans.
“`And they really let down our hosts in Rio who did such a wonderful job, and we feel very badly about that. I think we ended up in the right place in terms of being able to shine a light on what really happened there.”
Lochte originally described the Aug. 14 incident as an armed robbery, before the story unraveled.
In an interview with NBC that aired Saturday, Lochte backtracked and said he “overexaggerated” the story.
“That’s why I’m taking full responsibility for it, because I overexaggerated the story,” Lochte said. “If I had never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Police said Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz vandalized a bathroom after a night of partying. Armed guards confronted the swimmers and asked them to pay for the damage.
“It’s how you want to make it look like,” Lochte told NBC’s Matt Lauer. “Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us just paying for the damages, we don’t know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”
Lochte said he originally spoke to NBC’s Billy Bush the day after the incident while still under the influence of alcohol.
Lochte returned to the United States during the week. Feigen followed Friday night, but only after reaching a deal with a judge to make a $10,800 payment. The trip home for Bentz and Conger was a little more eventful.
They boarded a plane Wednesday night to leave Rio, but authorities removed the pair from the jet. Police were not satisfied with their account of the robbery-that-wasn’t and wanted more information. Bentz and Conger talked with authorities Thursday and were whisked through airport security and got on a plane that night. They were greeted back home with yard signs that said “Go Jack” and “Welcome Home.”
Blackmun said Lochte’s story dishonored Brazil in how the storyline took a great deal of attention off the Rio Games themselves.
“The things that you do are going to be magnified and the mistakes that you make are going to have a light shined on them in a way that’s going to make it very difficult for you to overcome,” Blackmun said.
Lochte said he regretted how the incident had tarnished Rio and the final week of the Olympics. He also gave an interview to Globo, Brazil’s main broadcaster, on Saturday to apologize for his actions.
“Brazil doesn’t deserve that,” Lochte said to Globo. “I am sorry that my immaturity caused all this ruckus.”
Lochte has said he hopes to compete at the Tokyo Games in 2020.
USA Swimming and the IOC both could sanction Lochte. IOC member Anita DeFrantz of the U.S. said it’s possible that Olympic officials could simply decide to let the USOC handle the matter.
DeFrantz made no effort to hide her disdain for the incident.
“They have forever put themselves on the kind of list that you don’t want to be remembered for,” she told The Associated Press. “I wish I could feel sorry for them. Instead I feel that they should have been honest from the beginning. What they did was wrong, but what was even more wrong, it was ridiculous that they didn’t stand up and tell the truth. “Who would have it hurt to tell the truth? No one. And who did it hurt not to tell the truth? It insulted a whole nation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.