American Olympian Ryan Lochte has accepted a 14-month ban for having received intravenous infusions in a volume greater than 100mL in a 12-hour period without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Per the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s announcement today, July 23, “On May 24, 2018, Lochte, 33, posted an image on social media depicting himself receiving an intravenous infusion.”
The release continued, “A subsequent investigation by USADA, with which Lochte fully cooperated, revealed that Lochte received an intravenous infusion of permitted substances at an infusion clinic in a volume greater than 100 mL in a 12-hour period without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).”
Lochte’s Instagram image has since been removed, but the tweet including a link remains with the quote, “Athletic recovery with some #ivdrip”
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) May 24, 2018
This is the photo that got Ryan Lochte banned 14 months. pic.twitter.com/1CljxSFlzy
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) July 23, 2018
The USADA specified,“Intravenous infusions or injections in a volume greater than 100 mL within a 12-hour period are prohibited at all times – except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital treatment, surgical procedures, or clinical diagnostic investigations under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the Fédération Internationale de Natation Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.”
In a press conference today shortly after the USADA announcement, Lochte stated, “I wasn’t taking anything illegal. Everything was legal. You can get it at CVS, Walgreens, but there are rules and you have to obey them…Don’t worry. I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep going [to Tokyo 2020].”
“It’s devastating to my family about this because I definitely made myself a better person after Rio, and I was back in training,” Lochte said. “I was feeling good. I was swimming fast. My son being born. Everything was happening. Everything was perfect, and then this happened. And it’s devastating.”
“As soon as you get to a certain point or level, in any kind of sport career, you’re always going to have an eye on you. I think I’ve learned it the hard way. Definitely. Especially since Rio. And now this.”
“I’m just going to post on my son and my wife, leave everything else out,” Lochte said. “Once you put anything on social media, it’s out there for the world.”
Lochte’s 14-month ban is back-dated to May 24th, the date of the infusion, which means the 33-year-old is ineligible for the Pan Pacific Championships in August, as well as the 2019 World Championships.
His suspension is the 2nd one announced just this week for the American squad, as 2017 world champion Madisyn Cox was handed a 2-year doping suspension after Trimetazidine appeared in an out-of-competition doping test. Matthew Willenbring, a Junior National Team member, was also sanctioned this past March for having tested positive for Hydrochlorathiazide. In both of these instances, the relevant anti-doping authorities (USADA and FINA) also declared the ingestion to be mitigated to reduced sentences from the maximum of 4 years.
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, 5-time Olympic champion, and current World Record holder in the 200 IM, has been rebuilding since a disappointing performance at the Rio Olympic Games where he missed the podium in the 200 IM and didn’t receive any individual medals. On top of that, his reputation took a hit when he embellished a story about being robbed at gunpoint and was eventually accused of vandalizing a gas station bathroom and being asked to pay for damages. He was ultimately given a 10-month suspension and dropped by a handful of high profile sponsors, including Speedo. His legal troubles in Brazil are still not fully resolved almost two years later.
In 2017, Lochte opened up about suicidal thoughts that he had in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Since then, Lochte has returned to Gainesville and reunited with coach Gregg Troy, who coached him as he swam with the Gators at his peak in the sport. We’ve just started to see a glimpse of the Lochte who earned his status as one of the greatest swimmers in history. Given his recent performances, he had a strong chance of qualifying for the Pan Pacs team. Now, however, we won’t be seeing his full potential this summer or at next summer’s World Championships.
Only Michael Phelps has more Olympic medals in swimming than does Lochte.