Swimmer Ryan Lochte has been suspended 14 months by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for receiving an intravenous infusion, a method that breaks anti-doping rules and one which he himself revealed on social media.
Lochte, according to the agency, was not using a banned substance, but rules stipulate that athletes cannot receive an IV unless it is related to hospitalization or an exemption has been granted. The violation was revealed by the 12-time Olympic medalist on social media when he posted a photo of himself getting the IV on May 24. The suspension comes just two days before the national championships in which he was entered in four events.
"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, who was banned for 10 months for a false claim about a gas-station robbery during the 2016 Games, said in a news conference Monday in Fort Lauderdale (via NBC). "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."
Lochte took a B vitamin complex he said was available anywhere.
"It's a hard sanction because I didn't take anything illegal, but a rule is a rule," he said. "I wasn't too clear on the rules, but now I am. And I know there's other athletes that don't know this rule. I want to help them and make sure that other athletes don't make the same mistake I did."
Lochte said he still intends to continue training to win in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but he plans to change his social media habits.
"I'm just going to post on my son and my wife, leave everything else out," he said. "Once you put anything on social media, it's out there for the world."
The suspension is the second for Lochte since the 2016 Rio Olympics and is retroactive to May 24, the date he received the prohibited intravenous infusion. His first suspension stemmed from his false claim that he and three U.S. swimmers were robbed at gunpoint during the games, an embarrassing episode for the U.S. in the international competition.
In announcing the suspension, USADA said that Lochte, 33, "fully cooperated" with the investigation, which revealed that he got "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. 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."
This article was written by Cindy Boren, a reporter for The Washington Post.