The U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte has been charged by Brazilian authorities for filing a false report during his stay at Rio while participating in the Rio 2016 Olympics.

He will be charged as he remains in the U.S. and will be able to choose whether he would like to plead defense in Brazil. The indictment has been forwarded to the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission. The 32-year-old swimmer reported that he alongside three other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint. Filing a false report could have him incarcerated for six months, although he has to step in Brazilian territory for the sentence to be applied.

Ryan lochte
Ryan Lochte in Rio 2016. Image credit: USA Today.

An Olympic scandal

The Olympic swimmer appeared on television apologizing for “exaggerating” the events, as it appears that he and the other swimmers were vandalizing a gas station, which they also urinated on. Nearby security guards pointed a gun at them and demanded a payment for the damages. The security guards’ statements match surveillance footage recorded that night.

Ryan Lochte
Lochte reported to the police that a gun was held to his head while he and his friends were walking toward the cab. Image credit: @ryanlochte.

He argued that the events were the result of too much drinking, as he also provided the report while intoxicated. He also talked to NBC’s correspondents about the events and exaggerated the whole account. The story cost Lochte several partnerships as he was widely criticized in both Brazilian and American media outlets.

The other swimmers were also caught in the controversy. Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were able to escape the country while James Feigen was forced to pay a fine equivalent to $10,800. As they were interviewed, each swimmer gave their own version of the story.

Will Lochte lose his gold medal?

Although Lochte appears to be off the hook for now, authorities of the U.S. Olympic Committee have expressed their intentions of pressing the issue, which could ostensibly result in the removal of Lochte’s gold medal.

The International Olympic Committee is the main authority when determining if an athlete has violated any rules of the Olympic Games. The committee is able to strip Olympic honors and ask for the return of the medals. Even if a single team member violates the rules, the committee can strip the whole team of its medals.

Ryan Lochte
Lochte’s lawyer stated on CNN that Brazilian authorities have not reached out to him with a warrant. Image credit: Vox.

Most of the cases of stripped Olympic medals have occurred due to doping, unlawfulness in the athlete’s participation in sport, and lack of sportsmanship. For example, Soviet weightlifter Ibragim Samadov was stripped of his bronze medal after hurling it to the floor as he “stormed off the stage during the awards ceremony.”

The committee can also restore stripped Olympic medals, but it is not a common procedure. Most of the events have occurred due to a direct infringement of Olympic rules, not because of ethics or law matters. The committee will have to evaluate whether they are entitled to remove Lochte’s fourth medal, which he earned without the help of narcotics and following every guideline set by the officials at the Olympics.

Source: Washington Post