The decorated Olympian has done it again. No, not won another medal. Ryan Lochte was suspended for 14 months after a photo on Instagram landed the swimmer in hot water. Lochte is barred from competing until July of 2019.
He’ll miss the national championships, as well as the Pan Pacifics and next year’s world championships, derailing a promising start to his comeback.
What Exactly Did He Do?
Lochte posted a photo of himself on Instagram receiving an IV injection in May of this year, something prohibited by newly strengthened anti-doping regulations. The US Anti-Doping Agency became aware of the photo—possibly because Lochte published it for the world to see—and slapped the swimmer with the ban.
Apparently, Lochte sought out a vitamin injection to stop himself from getting sick when his family was under the weather. Next time, just grab a bottle of Vitamin C, bro.
What’s the Big Deal?
Athletes can only receive intravenous treatments during a hospital stay or under circumstances pre-approved by the USADA. While Lochte wasn’t taking an illegal substance, the method itself violated the rules.
Only 2 other athletes have received bans for IV treatments, and Lochte is the first swimmer in over 10 years to receive more than a year’s suspension.
In a press conference in Florida after the ban, Lochte said, “I have never taken a prohibitive substance.” He went on to clarify, “I have never attempted to gain any advantage by putting anything illegal in my body. I would never do that; this is very serious to me. … Unfortunately, while the rule is a newer rule and is not widely known as others, I should know better.”
Unfortunately for Lochte, ignorance does not equal bliss—or immunity. Tennis star Maria Sharapova tried a similar tactic in 2016, when she tested positive for a banned substance, by claiming that she was unaware of the rule change. It didn’t get her off the hook, and it won’t save Lochte from steep consequences.
His Second Major Ban
After adding to his medal collection in the Rio games, Lochte tarnished his reputation by getting intro a drunken altercation at a Brazilian gas station. He was slapped with 10 months for that incident, along with forfeiting $100,000 in prize money. Worst of all for Lochte’s brand, he also lost his major sponsors, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren.
Still Hope for Tokyo?
“I may be on the sideline from competition, but I’ll continue to train every day,” he said. “I want nothing more than to earn the privilege to swim for my country in my fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.”
Lochte would be 36 during the 2020 games, and medaling there would make him the older Olympic swimming champion. Since Rio, Lochte has also settled down to become a husband and father. Here’s hoping that he will shed his wild party persona for good and finally grow up. Lucky for him, Lochte has a year on the bench to think about it.