U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has finally been heard from after leaving a scandal in his wake in Rio when he flew home to the U.S.
Lochte took to Instagram to post an apology for his role in the incident, in which Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers were detained early Sunday at a gas station in Rio in what is now being called a vandalism incident. Lochte’s initial account of events, in which he described being robbed at gunpoint, has been discredited.
Lochte this week reportedly hired high-profile PR consultant Matthew Hiltzik to help with damage control in what has become an international incident. Hiltzik’s clients have included Justin Bieber, Alec Baldwin and NFL player Manti Te’o.
In an Instagram post signed off on by Lochte today, the swimmer wrote:
“I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend — for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics. I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.
“It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event. I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.
“I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio ’16 Host Committee, and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that these Olympic Games provided a lifetime of new memories.
“There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes.”