Ryan Lochte’s hopes for the 2018 National Championships have been sunk. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has issued the 33-year-old athlete a 14-month suspension from competitive swimming because of an IV injection he received in May.
“On May 24, 2018, Lochte, 33, posted an image on social media depicting himself receiving an intravenous infusion,” the USADA said in a statement. “A subsequent investigation by USADA, with which Lochte fully cooperated, revealed that Lochte received 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 (TUE).”
The USADA generally prohibits intravenous injections unless the athlete is receiving medical treatment — or, as the statement notes, unless the athlete has received an exemption in advance.
The 12-time Olympic medalist defended himself at a news conference on Monday, July 23, according to ESPN. “I have never taken a prohibitive substance,” he said. “I have never attempted to gain any advantage by putting anything illegal in my body. I would never do that; this is very serious to me. … Unfortunately, while the rule is a newer rule and is not widely known as others, I should know better.”
According to the Associated Press, Lochte claimed he received the injection — which, he said, contained B-complex vitamins — because his wife and son were sick and he didn’t want to become sick, as well.
The USADA stated Lochte’s “period of ineligibility” began on May 24 — the day he received the IV injection — so he’ll be eligible to swim again in July 2019. That means he’ll have to sit out not just this year’s national championships but also the Pan Pacific Championships later this year and next year’s world championships.
Lochte was also suspended from swimming two years ago after embellishing claims that he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics. “The suspension forces me to take a mental break,” Lochte told Us Weekly at the time. “I guarantee I’ll be a better swimmer. I will have drive and purpose.”
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