Superstar U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte is again in hot water.
Two months ago, he posted a photo on social media of himself receiving an intravenous infusion. That caught the attention of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which launched an investigation.
Now, the six-time gold medalist has been suspended for 14 months. That clock started on May 24, the day he took the IV.
“This is devastating for my family and me, and I was finally back in top shape,” Lochte said at a news conference. This means he will miss the upcoming national championships starting on July 25, as well as major international swimming events.
It’s worth noting that the USADA did not find that he was injecting himself with any banned substances – the problem was the amount of fluid that he received. The USADA does not allow athletes to receive intravenous infusions of more than 100 ml in a 12-hour period, unless they have a special exemption.
Lochte’s infusion was larger than the allowed amount, the investigation found.
He said that he was not aware of the rule. “If I did, I never would have done it, it’s obvious that I would not have posted a picture.”
The swimmer told reporters that he sought the IV of vitamins because he wanted to avoid getting sick after family members were ill.
USADA said in a statement that Lochte “fully cooperated” with the investigation.
“I know it sounds like a harsh penalty for something unintentional and where I didn’t put anything prohibited in my body, but a rule’s a rule and I accept that there was a technical violation and that I’ll have to do this consequences,” Lochte said. He added that he hopes other athletes will learn from his mistake.
Sanctions of this kind appear to be rare. According to The Associated Press, “the USADA database shows only two other athletes being sanctioned for using such a method.”
This isn’t the first time Lochte has been suspended. As NPR’s Bill Chappell reported, he was previously suspended for 10 months due to his behavior in Rio during the 2016 Olympics.
That was centered around an odd and highly scrutinized incident at a gas station. Initially, as Bill reported, “Lochte spoke to the media about what he described as an armed robbery — but that version of events unraveled in the face of scrutiny, particularly after surveillance video contradicted Lochte.”
The Brazilian investigation into that incident is still active, the AP added: “A court there recently decided that he could still face prosecution for filing a false report.”
Lochte told reporters Monday that he is still aiming to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.