Ryan Lochte appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday to speak out about his controversial Rio robbery scandal – clarifying yet again some of the misunderstandings and exaggerations surrounding the incident.
While Lochte acknowledged he had damaged property at the Brazilian gas station and maintained that a gun was involved, he explained that he is no longer sure he would classify the scene as a robbery as he had originally first claimed.
“I don’t know if I would consider it as a robbery, or extortion, or us just paying up for the poster being ripped,” the 32-year-old swimmer said.
“There was no damage to the bathroom,” he continued. “I never even entered the bathroom. It was locked – we couldn’t go in there. The story about me vandalizing the bathroom is absurd. It never really happened.”
Lochte also said he didn’t leave Rio early – detailing how Brazilian authorities hadn’t asked him to remain in the country and had instead congratulated him on his gold medal wins.
“I left on my own time,” he said. “I didn’t leave them for dry – I left when I was supposed to leave for my flight.”
He added that he’s tried to support his teammates who were involved in the scandal.
“I’ve reached out to everyone,” Lochte said. “I think that was the most important thing that I did because they mean so much to me. When I found out they were pulled off the plane and everything that happened in the media – that hurt me.”
He regretted not being in Rio in the aftermath of the controversy.
“I wasn’t there. I wanted to be there. I wanted to help,” he said. “I’ve just really been trying to be supportive and be positive to them.”
Lochte even said he would pay James Feigen back for the $10,800 he donated to Rio in order to leave the country.
“I reached out to Jimmy saying ‘I know you had to pay that fine – it is my fault.’ I’m taking full responsibility for this, and I will pay it that back if he will let me.”
The New York native did not confirm whether or not he would go back to Brazil to face charges. “I definitely have a great team,” Lochte said. “They’re dealing with it – all the legal issues. We’re just trying to get this over with.”
He continued: “It’s been dragged out way too long. The media has taken this to a whole new level. I just want to put this behind me and move forward. And I think the rest of the world wants that too. We’ve been talking about this way too long. There’s are other bigger issues that this world is facing.’
As for why he inflated his account of the incident in the first place, Lochte tried to not make any excuses.
“I think it’s still hours after the incident and I’m not one to make excuses but I was still intoxicated,” he said. “I was still going through the emotions of having a gun pulled on me. I’m human – I made a mistake and that’s something I’m going to have to live with.”
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He thanked his supporters for remaining on his side, and said he is looking forward to moving on to Dancing with the Stars
“The past two weeks have been the lowest point of my life. But the fans, my family, my friends – they’ve all been really positive, keeping me going.”
He concluded: DWTS is perfect. I want to put this behind me. I want the whole world to move forward and put on my dancing shoes.”