22nd August, 2016
Swimwear manufacturer Speedo and fashion label Ralph Lauren on Monday said they were dropping their sponsorship of the disgraced U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.
The companies made their announcements after Lochte lied about being robbed at gunpoint by a policeman after a night out during the Rio Olympics.
“We cannot condone behaviour that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,’’ Speedo said.
Lochte and three team-mates had in fact damaged a petrol station’s toilet door after lying that they were robbed at gunpoint.
They had been returning to the Olympic village after a night out in Rio when they tried, unsuccessfully, to use the locked toilet and urinated outside instead.
Ralph Lauren, which has removed some of Lochte’s images from its website, said its sponsorship had been only for the Rio Olympics and would not be renewed.
The value of Lochte’s Speedo sponsorship has not been disclosed however.
The contract reportedly expires this year after 10 years.
Speedo said it would donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte’s sponsorship fee to the Brazilian operation of the charity “Save The Children’’.
U.S. 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 and $2 million.
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 U.S.
In Rio, he swam in two events, winning a gold medal in the 4×200 metres freestyle relay along with team-mate Jack Conger.
Lochte’s behaviour has been met with disdain in the U.S. and he has been widely pilloried in the U.S. media.
On Friday, the New York Post carried a front-page headline describing him as the “Ugly American’’, along with the slogan “Liar, Liar, Speedo on fire’’.
After first claiming that he and his three team-mates had been robbed by bogus policemen, Lochte back-tracked.
He admitted he had, while still drunk, “left details out’’ and “overexaggerated some parts of the story’’.
In spite of the evidence against him, including CCTV footage, he has however denied that he actually lied in his initial account to Brazilian police.
“We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience,’’ Speedo said of Lochte.
Syneron Candela — a hair removal company — is another sponsor of Lochte.
It said on Sunday that its sponsorship of the swimmer was an “ongoing investigation’’.
The swimmer’s other sponsors include mattress maker Airweave.