Robbed: Lochte’s spon­sors rip away deals a er scan­dal

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

OLYMPIC swim­mer Ryan Lochte lost four spon­sor­ship deals on Au­gust 23 – a ma­jor fi­nan­cial hit for the em­bat­tled gold medal­list stem­ming from his spu­ri­ous claim of be­ing robbed at gun­point in Rio, a story later dis­cred­ited by Brazil­ian po­lice.

Global swimwear brand Speedo and US fashion la­bel Ralph Lauren topped the list of com­pa­nies that ended their re­la­tion­ships with the 32-yearold Lochte, with the for­mer not­ing his ac­tions had not re­flected the “values” it wished to pro­mote.

Mat­tress com­pany Air­weave and Syneron Can­dela, the par­ent com­pany for a laser hair re­moval sys­tem that Lochte pro­moted, quickly fol­lowed suit.

Lochte claimed he and three of his team­mates – all of them gold medal win­ners in Rio – were mugged by rob­bers pre­tend­ing to be po­lice af­ter a night out, but the story quickly un­rav­elled as new wit­ness tes­ti­mony and sur­veil­lance video sur­faced.

Po­lice said the group had been de­tained over the van­dal­i­sa­tion of a gas sta­tion bath­room, ap­par­ently led by a drunken Lochte – a ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment for Team USA, an Olympic swim­ming pow­er­house.

“Speedo USA to­day an­nounces the de­ci­sion to end its spon­sor­ship of Ryan Lochte,” the com­pany said in a state­ment, not­ing that the com­pany will do­nate US$50,000 of Lochte’s fees to Save the Chil­dren, to go to­ward help­ing Brazil­ian youth.

“While we have en­joyed a win­ning re­la­tion­ship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an im­por­tant mem­ber of the Speedo team, we can­not con­done be­hav­ior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” it said.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate his many achieve­ments and hope he moves for­ward and learns from this ex­pe­ri­ence,” Speedo USA said of Lochte, who has won a to­tal of 12 medals in Olympic com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing his ca­reer, six of them gold.

In a state­ment to E! News, Lochte said he was “grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties” af­forded to him by his ties with Speedo – a 10-year deal that was due to end this year, ac­cord­ing to ESPN.

Ralph Lauren, which out­fit­ted Team USA for the Olympic open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies in Rio, said it too was fin­ished with Lochte, not­ing that their agree­ment was spe­cific to the Rio Games and his con­tract would not be re­newed.

“Ralph Lauren con­tin­ues to proudly spon­sor the US Olympic and Par­a­lympic Team and the values that its ath­letes em­body,” it added in a state­ment.

Air­weave said on Twit­ter it was end­ing its part­ner­ship with Lochte, which was also lim­ited to the Rio Olympics.

And Syneron Can­dela said in a state­ment to ESPN, “We hold our em­ploy­ees to high stan­dards, and we ex­pect the same of our busi­ness part­ners. We wish Ryan well on his fu­ture en­deav­ors and thank him for the time he spent sup­port­ing our brand.” ‘Overex­ag­ger­ated’ Af­ter is­su­ing a writ­ten apol­ogy that was widely ridiculed on­line as half­hearted, Lochte ad­mit­ted in an in­ter­view with NBC aired this week­end that he had “left de­tails out” and “overex­ag­ger­ated some parts of the story”.

He also ad­mit­ted he was still in­tox­i­cated when he gave his ini­tial ac­count of the in­ci­dent, adding: “I let my team down.”

Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, Lochte flew back to the United States, while the other three – Gun­nar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen – stayed in Brazil.

On Thurs­day, po­lice re­leased closed-cir­cuit TV footage and other ev­i­dence about the events at the gas sta­tion.

The ath­letes, who ap­peared in­tox­i­cated, stopped in a taxi at the gas sta­tion to use the bath­room dur­ing the early hours of the morn­ing.

Lochte and the oth­ers then van­dalised the area near the bath­room and, ac­cord­ing to the man­ager, uri­nated on the walls.

Con­fronted by a se­cu­rity guard, they tried to leave. When the con­fronta­tion es­ca­lated, the se­cu­rity guard took out his pis­tol and made them sit on the ground.

Af­ter pay­ing about $50 in com­pen­sa­tion for the dam­age to the sta­tion, they left un­harmed and re­turned to the ath­letes’ vil­lage.

“There was no rob­bery of the kind re­ported by the ath­letes,” the head of Rio’s civil po­lice, Fer­nando Veloso, told a press con­fer­ence.

Lochte’s claims caused the Olympic au­thor­i­ties huge em­bar­rass­ment, high­light­ing se­cu­rity wor­ries at a Games where Brazil de­ployed 85,000 po­lice and soldiers – dou­ble the num­ber used in the 2012 Lon­don Games.

He could yet face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion over the in­ci­dent, as both USA Swim­ming and the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee could sanc­tion him. –

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