Just call him the comeback kid. Ryan Lochte addressed his recent 10-month suspension from all swimming competitions on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show set to air on Monday, September 12, calling the fallout after the Rio robbery scandal one of his darkest moments.
“I reached the lowest point of my entire life that I never thought I would go to,” the 32-year-old Olympic medalist told the talk-show host. “I was in a really dark place, and I didn’t know if I should come out, [or] just hide my entire life.”
In the days following his headline-making claims that he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint after a party in Rio, Lochte was bashed on social media, lost major sponsorships, and on Thursday, September 8, was banned from both domestic and international swim team competitions through June 30, 2017. (Rio authorities later determined that the athletes had lied about being robbed at gunpoint and had actually vandalized a gas station.)
“You know, I’ve been swimming my entire life and I’ve never taken a break, and for someone telling me that I can’t do something I’ve been doing my entire life … it’s heartbreaking and it stinks,” he told DeGeneres, 58. “But there is so much more I want to accomplish in the sport of swimming, so I do know that I’m still going to be training, and when I do come back, I’m going to definitely be a better swimmer and a better person.”
The 12-time medalist also revealed that he’s reached out to fellow superstar swimmer Michael Phelps for a few words of wisdom, given that the most decorated Olympian also has some past experience falling out of favor with fans.
“I reached out to him because I knew he hit a low point in his life and he bounced back from it and I knew his answer was gonna be really honest because of our relationship over the years,” Lochte said in reference to Phelps’ 2014 DUI arrest. “He said, ’It’s not what you did; it’s what you do now that will shape who you are.’”
“I took that to heart and you know, that’s what I’m gonna do,” he continued. “I’m gonna better myself. Make sure I don’t make those mistakes and become a better person.”
Lochte will be competing on Season 23 of Dancing With the Stars with partner Cheryl Burke. The ballroom competition kicks off on ABC Monday, September 12, at 8 p.m. ET.
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