U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Ryan Lochte has lost two major sponsors after admitting that he exaggerated his story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Swimsuit company, Speedo USA, and clothing maker, Ralph Lauren, both announced Monday that they would no longer be working with Lochte. Speedo said it will donate $50,000 of Lochte's fee to Save The Children to benefit 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,'' Speedo said. "We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience." Ralph Lauren said its sponsorship of Lochte was specifically for the Rio Olympic games and said it would not be renewing its contract with him. Lochte admitted Saturday he "over-exaggerated" assertions that he and three teammates were the victims of an armed robbery at a Rio De Janeiro gas station. He insisted, however, that he did not lie, but still issued an apology. "I'm sorry, he said. "Brazil doesn't deserve that." The 12-time Olympic medalist initially said that he and three teammates were robbed by gunmen early last week after their taxi was pulled over by armed men posing as police. Rio police rejected this version of events and accused Lochte and the others of lying. Video surveillance has emerged showing the swimmers getting into a confrontation with armed security guards over alleged vandalism at a gas station where their taxi stopped. Lochte maintained he was a victim of blackmail because he was forced by armed guards to give them money. Swimmer Gunnar Benz said the security guards accosted them after they had urinated behind some bushes and Lochte had ripped an advertising poster from a wall. The gas station manager has accused the swimmers of vandalizing an area near the bathroom. The gas station is close to Olympic Park, where coverage of the sporting events has been interspersed over the past two weeks with reports of muggings and robberies, including incidents involving other athletes and two visiting government ministers. U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun on Sunday said Lochte and his three teammates will face disciplinary action. Blackmun did not offer specifics but expressed frustration at their behavior. "They let down our athletes," he said. "They let down Americans."
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December 10, 2020