After 14 months sidelined from competition due to receiving an intravenous vitamin infusion at a volume over the allowed limit, multi-time Olympic champion Ryan Lochte, 34, will quietly become eligible this week as Team USA is deep into a wild 2019 FINA World Championships week in South Korea.
On May 24, 2018, months after completing his 10-month suspension stemming from his infamous Rio Olympics gas station incident, Lochte posted an image on social media of himself and his wife receiving an intravenous infusion. The photo was captioned “Athletic recovery with some #ivdrip.”
Following an investigation by USADA, with which Lochte fully cooperated, he was suspended. Athletes are not permitted to receive treatments at an infusion clinic in a volume greater than 100 mL in a 12-hour period without a Therapeutic Use Exemption, which Lochte did not have.
“I wasn’t taking anything illegal. Everything was legal,” Lochte said in a press conference shortly after the announcement. “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].”
Lochte, who has only logged 24 races since Rio, has remained in the USADA testing pool – he’s been tested twice so far this year – so it appears he’s immediately eligible to compete when the suspension ends. Despite a second foray into television (the first being What Would Ryan Lochte Do? in 2013) on Celebrity Big Brother; treatment for alcohol addiction, per his attorney; a handful of general celebrity and endorsement gigs (including one funded by Alex Rodriguez); and a toddler and a newborn, Lochte has continued to train.
His ban was retroactive to the day he received the IV infusion, meaning it ends this Wednesday, July 24. The qualifying period for next week’s 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships opened June 1, 2018, and officially closes today, July 23, 2019 – however, USA Swimming allows late submissions for swims done between the July 24 and 28.
In a pre-Olympic year, though, Lochte does not need to swim at Nationals to qualify for U.S. National Team funding.
To make the 2019-2020 National Team, Lochte would simply have to be in the top six American swimmers, based on FINA world rankings, in an individual Olympic event – from the combined results of USA Swimming or FINA sanctioned meets – with his qualifying swims occurring on or before August 25.
The 200 IM world record holder Lochte’s best times, obviously, put him easily in the top six Americans as of now (and mostly atop those ranks). We don’t know what kind of shape he’s in, but he only has to get within about 10 seconds of his best time in the 400 IM, or six in the 200 back, or five in the 200 IM (or a number of other events) to make the squad as of now.
Should he want to try to squeak in a Nationals entry, Lochte, who is based in Florida, could make an appearance at the Florida LSC Senior Championships that begin Thursday in Ft. Pierce. Psych sheets have already been posted, and he is not listed, but a time trial or late entry could be on the table.