RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – US swimming star Ryan Lochte has been charged with making a false statement about being robbed at gunpoint during the Olympics, Brazilian police said Thursday.
One police official quoted by Brazilian media said the 32-year-old gold medal-winner risks a jail sentence, though judicial authorities had yet to confirm that.
“Ryan Lochte was charged with the crime of falsely reporting a crime,” police said in a statement, adding that the case had been referred to the courts.
The police statement said they had recommended that the courts issue a summons for the 32-year-old gold medal-winner to be questioned.
“Once he is summoned, whether he turns up or not, the penalty is the same: one to six months prison,” Rio police official Clemente Braune was quoted as saying by news website G1.
“If he is summoned and does not turn up to the hearing, the trial will go ahead in the accused s absence until the final sentence is given.”
Lochte apologized last week for saying that he and three team mates had been mugged on their way back from an all-night party by robbers pretending to be police.
Rio police chief Fernando Veloso later told a press conference that the swimmers were not robbed but were detained when they tried to flee after vandalizing a gas station bathroom.
The tale humiliated first the Brazilian hosts of the Games and later Lochte s own Team USA when police contested his story.
Top sponsors such as Speedo and Ralph Lauren this week abandoned Lochte.
“I m taking full responsibility for it,” Lochte said in an interview broadcast in part late Saturday.
“I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that, we wouldn t be in this mess.”