Ryan Lochte Tears Up as He Says 2016 Rio Olympics Incident 'Changed My Entire Life'
"I'm just trying to fight my way back to the top again," the Olympic swimmer says
The professional swimmer, 35, discusses the headline-making incident on Alex Rodriguez‘s new CNBC show, Back in the Game. The four-episode series follows the former MLB player mentoring and giving advice to athletes and entertainers who have fallen from grace in their respective careers.
In an exclusive clip from the upcoming one-on-one interview, Lochte gets emotional as he opens up about the situation, which saw him receive a 10-month suspension from the sport after being charged with falsely communicating a crime.
“One mistake changed my entire life,” he tells Rodriguez, 44. “I went from hero to zero. I’m just trying to fight my way back to the top again.”
“I know exactly what you feel like,” Rodriguez says, referencing the backlash he received for lying about his steroid usage while in the MLB. “I can relate cause I had my same issues. It was crushing for me to disappoint my mother and my daughters. I felt like I let an entire nation down.”
As Lochte begins to choke up and gets tears in his eyes, he tells Rodriguez, “When you say that it hits me. I feel like I did let down a lot of people. I am a role model and I want to be the best role model for people.
Rodriguez then recalls how he handled his own incident. “I remember laying in bed and literally crying and just saying like ‘I have no idea how I did this to myself. I made my bed and now I have to lay in it,’ ” he says. “I just didn’t know how to engage, how to apologize.”
“I know you did it on a macro level, but did you apologize to people that loved you and backed you?” he asks Lochte. “And also, those fans out there that ultimately are the shareholders of our careers.”
At the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, Lochte initially said he and three other members of the United States swim team were robbed at gunpoint at a Shell gas station while returning to the Olympic Village. He later admitted that he still wasn’t sure what really happened the night of the incident. The Rio police held a news conference a few days later and said the swimmers had vandalized the restroom in the service station.
Lochte apologized following the 2016 interview, posting a message to his Instagram in response to his claim that he and teammates James Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz were held at gunpoint during a night out.
In July 2017, the six-time Olympic gold medalist was cleared of all charges surrounding the incident, with the court deciding that Lochte hadn’t broken the law because Rio police instigated the investigation, not the swimmer.
More recently, Lochte returned to competitive swimming for the first time following a 14-month ban for posting a photo showing himself receiving an IV infusion, and opened up about his decision to seek alcohol treatment in Florida last year for about six weeks. The athlete is set to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Back in the Game will air Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST on CNBC.