NEW YORK • Ryan Lochte, the American swimmer who has won six Olympic gold medals, says he is devastated after accepting a 14-month suspension on Monday for receiving an intravenous infusion.
Though the 33-year-old is not accused of taking an illegal substance, he violated a rule barring athletes from getting IVs unless they have been hospitalised or have received an exemption to get one, the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) said.
"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 millilitres in a 12-hour period without a therapeutic use exemption," the organisation said.
The ban halted a planned comeback after the US Olympic Committee suspended him for 10 months in September 2016 after he lied to Brazilian police about being robbed during the Rio Olympics following a night of drinking.
Last month, Brazil's Superior Court gave prosecutors permission to pursue criminal charges against him for falsely reporting a crime.
The swimmer claimed that he had taken the IV, containing B-12 and other vitamins, to improve his immune system because both his wife and son were ill and had recently visited hospitals. He had posted a photo on Instagram in May that showed him receiving an intravenous infusion. That triggered the Usada probe.
VOWING TO FIGHT BACK
This is devastating. I wasn't taking anything illegal... Don't worry, I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep going.
'' RYAN LOCHTE, a six-time Olympic champion, who is still aiming to make the 2020 Games.
"This is devastating. I wasn't taking anything illegal," Lochte said on Monday, according to the swimming news site SwimSwam.
"Everything was legal. You can get it at CVS, Walgreens... I have never taken a prohibited substance and never attempted to gain any advantage over my competition by putting anything illegal in my body.
"I would never intentionally violate any anti-doping rule. Unfortunately, although the rule is a newer one and not as widely known as others, I should know better.
"Don't worry, I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep going."
In 2010, the American was fined for disorderly conduct in Florida after being involved in a fight.
Following the 2012 Olympics, he starred in a reality TV show called What Would Ryan Lochte Do? but it was cancelled after one season owing to poor ratings.
And in an interview with television and radio host Ryan Seacrest, the swimmer admitted to urinating in the Olympic pool in London.
In 2016, after the Rio Games, Lochte also participated in Season 23 of Dancing With The Stars. He had been planning to swim at this week's national championships.
The suspension, which is backdated to May, will run till July next year. It will also keep him out of this year's Pan Pacific Championships and next year's World Championships in South Korea.
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE