NEW YORK • First came the criticism and now comes the financial hit.
Ryan Lochte has lost his major sponsors after it emerged that he falsely claimed he and three team-mates had been held up by armed robbers at the Rio Olympics, with Speedo saying it will cut ties with the US swimmer.
The announcement was followed by news that Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Syneron-Candela would also end their relationships with Lochte.
In a statement on Monday, swimwear manufacturer Speedo said it decided to end its relationship with Lochte as his conduct ran "counter to the values this brand has long stood for".
It added: "As part of this decision, Speedo USA will donate a US$50,000 ($67,450) portion of Lochte's fee to Save the Children, a global charity partner of Speedo USA's parent company, for children in Brazil."
Lochte is believed to have earned around US$15 million through endorsements during a career in which he has won six gold medals over four Olympics.
He featured prominently in one Ralph Lauren advertisement campaign that ran on US television during the Olympics, even as the "robbery" story rumbled on in the background.
"Ralph Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the US Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody," the company said on Monday. "Ralph Lauren's endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract."
Syneron-Candela, parent company of Gentle Hair Removal, was the third to cut ties on Monday, saying in a statement that it holds its employees "to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners".
Airweave, a Japanese mattress manufacturer that had pledged to stand by Lochte, announced in a tweet that it, too, would drop him "after careful consideration".
Lochte's portfolio has diminished in recent years. He had deals with Gillette, Mutual of Omaha, Nissan, AT&T and Gatorade ahead of the London Olympics in 2012 - bringing in a reported US$2.3 million annually - but those deals all expired.
He is not the first American swimmer to lose sponsors after unruly behaviour. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian, also suffered financially after he was pictured smoking a bong and was subsequently charged with DUI (driving under the influence).
Whether sponsors want to take another risk on the 32-year-old Lochte, whose best years in the pool are behind him, remains to be seen.
That is if he ever competes again. Although he hinted he would like to swim at the 2020 Tokyo Games, the US Olympic Committee and USA Swimming are likely to punish him, which could end his hopes of appearing at another Olympics.
Lochte said he would continue to swim even if sanctioned by the US Olympic Committee (Usoc) for his lack of honesty.
"I'm swimming for another four years," he told TMZ in Los Angeles on Monday. "So however long my suspension is, what the Usoc says, I'm going to get back in the water and keep going."
WASHINGTON POST, THE GUARDIAN