Sports / Newsmakers

Contrite Lochte apologizes to Brazil

By Associated Press in New York (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-22 07:45

US swimmer Ryan Lochte said he overexaggerated what happened at a Rio gas station, while acknowledging his "immature behavior" got him and three teammates into trouble in the final days of the Olympics.

"It's how you want to make it look," Lochte said in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer that aired in the US on Saturday.

He also gave an interview to Brazil's main broadcaster Globo to apologize for his actions and said he regretted how the incident had tarnished Rio and the last week of the Olympics. "Brazil doesn't deserve that," Lochte told the Globo interviewer.

"I am sorry that my immaturity caused all of this ruckus."

In his conversation with Lauer, Lochte, a member of the gold medal 4x200 freestyle relay team, continued to backtrack from a story he initially described as an armed robbery.

Police said the swimmers vandalized a bathroom after a night of partying and that armed guards confronted them and asked them to pay for the damage.

Contrite Lochte apologizes to Brazil

"Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us just paying for the damage,we don't know.

"All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were ordered to give money."

But Lochte said he understood he was being told the US swimmers had to pay for the damage or the police would be called.

At that point in the interview, Lauer said: "You're striking a deal. Is that fair?"

Lochte replied: "We just wanted to get out of there," adding that the swimmers were frightened.

Lauer told Lochte that his story had morphed from being one about "the mean streets of Rio to a negotiated settlement to cover up dumb behavior."

Lochte said: "That's why I'm taking full responsibility for it, because I over exaggerated the story.

"If I had never done that,we wouldn't be in this mess."

Lochte also said he lied in telling NBC interviewer Billy Bush the next day that a gun had been cocked and pointed at his forehead.

He admitted he was still under the influence of alcohol when he talked to Bush.

"I definitely had too much to drink that night and I was very intoxicated," he said.

Lochte, who dyed his hair white for the Games and had it turn a light shade of green from the pool, dyed it back to its regular shade of brown for the interview, which was conducted in New York.

As Brazilian police investigated his robbery claim, Lochte tweeted that he intended to return his hair to its regular color.

He said he hoped to continue competitive swimming, but acknowledged it won't be his decision about whether he will be part of the US team again.

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