Rio incident cuts short Ryan Lochte's commercial victory lap

Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:48pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker and Scott Malone

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The week after winning his sixth career Olympic gold in Rio, U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte should have been doing a victory lap, cashing in on his performance with fresh sponsorship deals.

Instead, one of America's most decorated swimmers is accused by Brazilian police of inventing a story about an armed robbery to cover for some bad behavior at a gas station.

It could not come at a worse time for the 32-year-old.

One of his sponsors, swimwear company Speedo, said it was monitoring the situation. Another, mattress brand Airweave, was still trying to understand what had happened.

"I'm sorry about Ryan and I don't know about the situation and our position is not changing at this time," Airweave chief executive Motokuni Takaoka told Reuters.

After the Olympic cauldron is extinguished, a gold medalist only has a brief time to turn fame into commercial gain.

"That window of opportunity that you have to take advantage of your celebrity and your status is pretty small, realistically weeks," said Jim Andrews, senior vice president of sponsorship tracking firm IEG.

Lochte has said he and three team mates were robbed by gunmen early on Sunday, on their way back to the Athletes' Village from a party. Police denounced this version of events on Thursday, accusing Lochte and the others of lying.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Preliminary - Men's 200m Individual Medley - Heats - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Ryan Lochte (USA) of USA  REUTERS/Michael Dalder  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.