August 24, 2016 06:00 AM

The past 10 days have been hard for Ryan Lochte.

A night out in Rio turned into an international scandal when the swimmer claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint – an allegation that later turned out to be at least partially untrue.

As it turned out, Lochte had damaged a sign in a gas station restroom and was detained at gunpoint until he – and the swimmers with him – paid for the damages.

The aftermath has been devastating. Lochte, 32. has faced a mountain of bad press. The U.S. Olympic Committee is considering disciplinary action. He has lost several sponsors.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Lochte thanks his family and friends for being his support system.

My friends, family and my true fans have supported me,” He says. “My family has been so supportive. They’ve told me, ‘keep your head up. We love you. We’re here by your side. This will pass.'”

“They see how bad I’m hurt, because I let a lot of people down,” he continues. “There are people who have been so supportive and given me positive reinforcement. Being there and showing the love and care, I want to repay them in any way that I can.”

Lochte says that his family and friends have given him the strength to move forward. “I could have easily had gone into a cave and not come out, but I didn’t,” he says. “They kept me going and fighting. They inspired me to stay positive. I want to reward them in any way that I can.”

For much more on the aftermath of the Ryan Lochte scandal, pick up the latest copy of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.

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