Ryan Lochte has been charged with falsely reporting a crime after he claimed that he was robbed at gunpoint while at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian police said on Thursday (25 August). A police statement said Lochte would be informed in the US so he could decide whether to introduce a defence in Brazil.
The indictment will also be sent to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ethics commission, the statement added. A police spokesman confirmed that the case has been referred to the courts and Lochte has been summoned to give testimony. The US State Department said that it had been informed of the request, according to the BBC.
The gold medal winner has since apologised for making up what he described as an exaggerated story about being robbed at gunpoint. "If I hadn't exaggerated the story or told the entire story, none of this would have happened," he said in an interview with NBC.
"I was coming from the France house, I was highly intoxicated, and I made immature accusations."
He apologised to the petrol station owner, to Brazilian police and the people of Rio and Brazil. "I just want to say I am truly, 110% sorry."
Since his fabrication came to light, a number of Lochte's corporate sponsors have severed ties with him. They include Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren and skin-care company Syneron-Candela, as well as Japanese mattress maker, Airweave.
Lochte gained a new sponsor on Thursday – Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops. The swimmer will appear in adverts saying that the company's product is "forgiving on your throat." He is also believed to have signed up to take part in Dancing with the Stars on US TV.
Under Brazilian law, the penalty for falsely filing a crime report carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. Lochte could be tried in absentia if he does not return to Brazil to face the charge. The US and Brazil have an extradition treaty, but the Latin American nation has a long tradition of avoiding extradition of its citizens to other nations.
Lochte is planning to temporarily take time off from swimming, but says he will return in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He has 12 Olympic medals, second only to Michael Phelps among US male Olympic athletes.