(AFP, REUTERS)- The Brazilian authorities have charged US swimming star Ryan Lochte with making a false statement about being robbed at gunpoint during the Olympics, police said on Thursday.
The 32-year-old gold medal-winner risks a jail sentence, Brazilian media quoted a police official as saying, although the 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 the courts issue a summons for Lochte to be questioned.
"Once he is summoned, whether he turns up or not, the penalty is the same: one to six months' prison," the news website G1 Rio quoted police official Clemente Braune as saying.
"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 apologised 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.
"I'm taking full responsibility for it," Lochte said in an interview broadcast late on Saturday.
"I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that, we wouldn't be in this mess."
Rio police chief Fernando Veloso later told a news conference that the swimmers were not robbed but detained when they tried to flee after vandalising a gas station bathroom.
The tale humiliated first the Brazilian hosts of the Games and later Lochte's own Team USA after police contested his story.
Top sponsors such as Speedo and Ralph Lauren abandoned Lochte this week, although Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops has just announced a new endorsement deal with the swimmer on Thursday.
Pine Bros, which makes cough drops, said it had signed Lochte for a TV commercial and print ads in view of giving him a second chance.
"We all make mistakes, but they're rarely given front-page scrutiny," Pine Bros chief executive Rider McDowell said.
"I'm confident that Pine Bros fans will support our decision to give Ryan a second chance."
Following the incident, Lochte flew back to the United States, while the other three swimmers - Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen - stayed in Brazil.
Lochte could also face disciplinary action over the incident by USA Swimming and the International Olympic Committee.
Pine Bros, however, has said it would launch a series of ads featuring Lochte with the slogan: "Forgiving on Your Throat."