For the second half of the Olympic Games, all anyone could talk about was Ryan Lochte.
After his fabricated robbery story became an international incident, the incessant news coverage overshadowed the athletes who were still competing.
In the newest issue of PEOPLE, Lochte, 32, expresses regret for the distraction and apologizes to the people who he has hurt.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because I have a big heart, and I feel like let down a lot of people,” Lochte tells PEOPLE. “I feel bad that I have let people down.
“It sucks that it was one of the main focuses of the Olympics,” he continues. “That’s what stinks. The media blew it up and talked about it. It got out of control, and this was all anyone could talk about.”
“Everyone started watching it, and they didn’t watch the athletes,” he says. “That’s another reason why I’m so hurt by it, because it took away from the games.”
For much more on the aftermath of the Ryan Lochte scandal, pick up the latest copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Just hours after he claimed to be robbed at a Rio gas station, Lochte gave a now-infamous interview to the Today Show’s Billy Bush in which he told a dramatic story about having a cocked gun put to his head.
He later told PEOPLE that he had been untruthful.
“I made things up,” he says. “I didn’t tell the truth. And that’s on me. I messed up, and made a big mistake, and I’m sorry.”