Thursday, 27 July, 2017

Swimmer Ryan Lochte cleared of criminal charges in Rio Olympics scandal

Image AFP  Getty Images Image AFP Getty Images
Spencer Simpson | 16 July, 2017, 00:25

The criminal charge against American swimmer Ryan Lochte has been dropped after an appellate court in Brazil determined that he did not break the law by falsely reporting an incident that occurred at a gas station during last year's Rio Olympics, USA Today reported.

Lochte told NBC a year ago that he and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with police badges as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party on August 15. However, on Thursday, July 13th, Rio's Fifth Criminal Chamber of the Court of Justice closed a criminal case against Lochte by accepting a habeas corpus petition in his defense.

The court concluded Thursday that Lochte did not break the law because Rio police initiated the investigation - after Lochte's first interview with NBC - rather than Lochte, according to US and Brazilian media. Days later, Rio police stated that the athletes had vandalized the gas station bathroom and concluded that the swimmers had fabricated their story.

Lochte served a 10-month suspension over his behaviour in Rio.

Lochte's attorney, Jeff Ostrow, issued a statement to USA Today that hailed the court's decision as a definitive victory for his client.

Lochte subsequently said that he "definitely had too much to drink" that night, adding that he was still intoxicated when he provided false details to NBC's Billy Bush the day after the incident.

According to Brazilian newspaper Globo, Lochte could still face two charges from the public prosecutor.

Video surveillance and witness accounts showed Lochte and his teammates had been detained by armed security guards, who drew their weapons and ordered the swimmers to pay money for alleged damage at the gas station.

You may remember, Lochte and three teammates on the US swimming team were confronted by men with guns while cavorting and peeing at a Rio gas station in the wee hours of August 14, 2016.

He plans to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

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