U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte spoke for the first time Friday about his 10-month suspension from competitive swimming. In an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Lochte told the host that the suspension is “heartbreaking.”
“And it stinks,” he added.
His suspension, and $100,000 penalty, were announced Thursday by the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming in response to the swimmer's drunken encounter at a Brazilian gas station during last month’s Olympic games.
Lochte admitted previously that he “over-exaggerated” when recounting the incident, claiming to have been held at gunpoint during a drunken encounter at a gas station. Brazilian police charged him with filing a false police report.
The gold-medal winner told DeGeneres that he reached out to U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps for advice. Phelps was suspended for 6 months after a DUI arrest in 2014.
“I reached out to him because I knew he hit a low point in his life, and he bounced back from it,” Lochte said. “He said it’s not what you did, it’s what you do now that will shape who you are, and I took that to heart.”
When asked whether he wants to participate in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, he said yes, definitely.
“Now that the suspension and everything has happened, I can take [a] mental break. But I still have goals that I want to accomplish, so I will definitely be back. And hopefully I’ll be ready to rock and roll.”
Lochte appeared on the talk show with professional dancer Cheryl Burke, who will be his partner on the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars.” The swimmer told DeGeneres he’d agreed to appear on the program before the gas station incident went down in Rio.
On Monday, Lochte and Burke are slated to reappear on “Ellen” to talk more about “DWTS.” Lochte will also try out to be the host’s “Underwear Spokesmodel.”