LOS ANGELES • American swimmer Ryan Lochte has revealed he considered suicide after the drunken escapade at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last year which triggered an international scandal.
"After Rio, I was probably the most hated person in the world," he told ESPN.com.
"There were a couple of points where I was crying, thinking, 'If I go to bed and never wake up, fine'."
When asked if that meant he considered killing himself, the 32-year-old nodded and added: "I was about to hang up my entire life."
He has previously spoken of the depression that followed the scandal, in which he said he and three United States swimming team-mates - Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen - had been mugged at gunpoint at a gas station.
Brazilian police determined he had largely fabricated the story, and Brazilian authorities recommended charges against him for making a false statement after he admitted that he was drunk.
Lochte was subsequently banned from swimming for 10 months - a suspension that ends on June 30 but with an addendum that bans him from next month's world championships in Hungary.
During his suspension he has competed in April's US Masters Nationals - a meet not sanctioned by USA Swimming.
Lochte, who is expecting a baby boy with his fiancee Kayla Rae Reid, added that he has put the ordeal behind him and is now focused on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
"Everything happens for a reason," said the six-time Olympic champion. "I was drained, wiped out. Now I've found a new purpose with my son. This fire has been ignited, and it's bigger than ever.
"My son is going to be there during the Olympics. He's going to watch his dad do something that he's really passionate about and loves.
"I think that's what really got me to get that drive back again, that focus back in the water. I want to do it for him. I want to show him that if you set your mind on things, your dreams can come true. And to never give up on it.
"I'm just so excited because I know what's going to happen in Tokyo. Everyone is going to have to watch out."
He is the second-most decorated male swimmer in Olympic history, behind only compatriot and retired 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps.