NEW YORK — Star American swimmer Ryan Lochte said Saturday he took “full responsibility” for vandalizing a gas station bathroom and then telling police an “over exaggerated” story about it during the Rio Olympics.
The episode, which has embarrassed the US sporting superpower, saw Lochte and three other gold-winning US swimmers embroiled in a controversy after he gave a shocking — and false — account of how they had been robbed at gunpoint.
“That’s why I’m taking full responsibility for it. Because I over exaggerated that story and if I had never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” said Lochte in an interview broadcast in part late Saturday.
The full interview will be aired later by NBC television.
Lochte had already apologized Friday for saying that the swimmers had been mugged by robbers pretending to be police on their way back from an all-night party.
It was only after police declared the story bogus — saying that the four had only been detained by security and made to pay compensation for their drunken vandalization of a gas station bathroom — that Lochte finally came clean.
“I left details out… I left certain things out, and I over exaggerated some parts of the story,” he said in the interview.
Following the incident, Lochte flew back to the United States, while the other three — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen — stayed in Brazil.
On Wednesday, a Rio judge ordered that their passports be confiscated so that they could not leave the country, with all three questioned by police.
“I let my team down,” Lochte said when asked how he felt being home while his teammates were detained in Brazil.
“I wanted to be there, like, I don’t want them to think that I left, and left them dry because they were my teammates.
“I just wanted to make sure that they were at home safe before I came out and talked,” he added.
Lochte had similar words of contrition when interviewed by Brazil’s Globo TV.
“I am sorry, it won’t happen again,” he said. “It was my fault.. I was immature.”
On Thursday, police released closed-circuit TV footage and other evidence about the events at the gas station.
The athletes, who appeared intoxicated, stopped in a taxi at the gas station to use the bathroom during the early hours of the morning.
Lochte and the others then vandalized the area near the bathroom and, according to the manager, urinated on the walls.
Back home, Lochte has come in for scathing criticism over the incident, with media coverage and online comments almost universally damning.
Russian shot putter
stripped of medal for doping
The International Olympic Committee Saturday stripped Russia’s Yevgeniya Kolodko of her London 2012 Games shot put silver medal for doping — the second medalist from the contest to be disqualified.
Kolodko adds to a growing list of medal winners caught out in new tests on samples taken in London and at the 2008 Beijing Games.
The IOC said a new test on Kolodko’s doping sample had found two banned substances — the turinabol and the growth hormone ipamorelin.
Kolodko finished third but moved up to the silver medal one week after the competition when the winner Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus was revealed to have failed a test.
Valerie Adams of New Zealand, who originally came second, is now the gold medal winner. Gong Lijiao of China who originally finished fourth should now get the silver.
Bolt’s golden touch
Do Usain Bolt’s talents know no bounds?
The fastest man on earth also seems to have a gift for predicting winners. Not only did he tip Wayde van Niekerk to break Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old 400m record, he also had a quiet word with Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot before she stunned Almaz Ayana to win the 5,000m, according to a tweet from Team Jamaica.
Van Niekerk earlier told about the boost that Bolt’s words had given him.
“A few months prior to the Olympics we spoke about it and he told me I can (break the record). Obviously it did help me believe in myself… yeah, I’m grateful for the belief that he had in me.” — Agencies