Ralph Lauren and Speedo Drop Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte After Gas Station Stunt in Rio
Posted: Monday, August 22, 2016 – 12:58 PM
(AFP) Embattled star Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte lost two major endorsement deals on Monday following his false claim that he had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio, with Speedo and Ralph Lauren pulling the plug.
Both the global swimwear brand and the US fashion label said they were ending their relationships with the 32-year-old Lochte as his actions had not reflected the “values” they wish to promote.
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 was quickly discredited by other witness testimony and surveillance video.
Police said the group had been detained over the vandalization 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 $50,000 of Lochte’s fees to Save the Children, to go towards helping Brazilian children.
“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.
“Ralph Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the US Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody,” it said in a statement.
“Ralph Lauren’s endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract.”
Lochte also has endorsement deals with mattress company Airweave and Gentle Hair Removal.
– ‘Overexaggerated’ -After issuing an apology that was widely ridiculed online as half-hearted, Lochte admitted in an interview with NBC aired Saturday 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 vandalized 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 false claims caused the Olympic authorities huge embarrassment, highlighting security worries at a Games where Brazil has deployed 85,000 police and soldiers — double the number used in the 2012 London Games.
He could yet face disciplinary action over the incident — both USA Swimming and the International Olympic Committee could sanction him.
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