US swimmer Lochte loses major sponsorships for lying

New York, Aug 23 (IANS) United States’ star swimmer Ryan Lochte has lost all four of his major sponsors, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren Corp, following his “exaggerated” story about being robbed at gunpoint at the Rio Games.

Speedo and Ralph Lauren were followed by announcements from skin care firm Syneron-Candela and Japanese mattress maker Airweave that they were terminating their contracts with him.

The cancellation of sponsorships came after the 12-time Olympic medallist lied about being robbed at gunpoint by a policeman after a night out during the Rio Olympics, BBC reported on Tuesday.

Speedo, the biggest sponsor of the four, said: “We cannot condone behaviour that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.”

Lochte, aged 32, said he respected Speedo’s decision, and thanked the company.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years,” he said.

Speaking on US talk show Today, the six-time Olympic gold medallist added: “I made a mistake and I definitely learned from this. They put on great Games… and my immature, intoxicated behaviour tarnished that a little.”

Ralph Lauren, which has removed some of Lochte’s images from its website, said its sponsorship of the swimmer had been only for the Rio Olympics and would not be renewed.

Ralph Lauren and Airweave both stressed that they would continue their support of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Syneron-Candela said: “We hold our employees to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners.”

Speedo said it would donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte’s sponsorship fee to the Brazilian operation of the charity Save The Children.

The value of Lochte’s Speedo sponsorship has not been disclosed. The contract reportedly expires this year after 10 years.

The US business magazine Forbes calculated that in the year of the 2012 London Olympics, Lochte earned about $2 million in sponsorships from companies such as Gillette, Nissan, AT&T and Gatorade.

Lochte’s performance at Rio did not reach the heights of his London triumph, but Forbes estimated his endorsements would still have been between $1 million-$2 million.

Lochte’s behaviour has been met with disdain in the US and he has been widely pilloried in the US media.

On August 19, the New York Post carried a front-page headline describing him as the “Ugly American”, along with the slogan “Liar, Liar, Speedo on fire”.

Lochte is one of the most successful swimmers in history, with 12 Olympic medals, and he once had his own reality television show in the US.

In Rio, he swam in two events, winning a gold medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

“We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience,” Speedo said of Lochte.



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