Less than 24 hours after the close of the Rio Olympics, Ryan Lochte took a major financial hit Monday for a drunken incident he initially tried to pass off as an armed robbery.
In quick succession, four sponsors announced they were dumping the swimmer, who has since apologized and conceded that he embellished what happened during a now-infamous stop at a Rio gas station.
Swimsuit company Speedo USA, clothing giant Ralph Lauren and skin-care firm Syneron-Candela issued statements less than three hours apart, all with the same message: Lochte is out. Before the day was done, Japanese mattress maker airweave followed suit, essentially wiping out Lochte’s income away from the pool.
In addition, Speedo USA said $50,000 that would’ve gone to the 12-time Olympic medalist was being donated to Save The Children to benefit needy youngsters in Brazil.
“While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” the prominent swimsuit company said. “We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.”
Ralph Lauren, which provided the Polo-branded attire worn by the U.S. team at the opening and closing ceremonies, said it would not be renewing the contract that provided Lochte with financial support leading up to Rio. The statement from airweave said it had a similar arrangement with the swimmer. Both stressed they would continue their support of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.
Syneron-Candela offers a line of skin-treatment products that deal with issues such as wrinkle reduction.
“We hold our employees to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners,” the company said.
Lochte issued a statement through his public relations firm thanking Speedo USA for its long support. He did not immediately address the other companies dropping their endorsements.
“I respect Speedo’s decision and am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years,” Lochte said.
Initially, Lochte said he and three teammates — Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen — were robbed after their taxi was pulled over by armed men posing as police just hours after the swimming competition ended in Rio de Janeiro.
That version quickly unraveled when police said the swimmers, who had attended a late-night party, never reported the incident to authorities and there was scant evidence of a robbery. Video surveillance emerged showing the athletes getting into a confrontation with armed security guards over alleged vandalism at the gas station when their taxi pulled over to let them use the restroom.
While there have been conflicting versions over whether the guards pulled their weapons on the swimmers, Lochte has since acknowledged he was highly intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation, which resulted in the swimmers paying some $50 in U.S. and Brazilian currency before they were allowed to leave. The incident caused a furor in Rio, where street crime was a major issue heading into the games.
Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, said he wasn’t surprised by the decision since most of Lochte’s marketing value was tied to campaigns prior to the Olympics.
“I would think it was an easy decision to cut ties now,” Swangard said. “For someone like Lochte, he’s really destroyed almost all of his short-term marketability. Brands can easily seek out other athletes for the next Olympic cycle.”
The financial costs of losing Speedo and Ralph Lauren are likely to be only the first sanctions that await Lochte, whose antics tarnished a powerful showing by the American team and dominating news away from the stadiums and arenas in the final days of the Rio Games.
Both the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have indicated that Lochte will be punished, perhaps endangering the 32-year-old’s hopes of competing in a fifth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020. He could also face criminal charges in Brazil, where the other swimmers were initially barred from leaving the country until they were interviewed by authorities.
Feigen wound up donating just under $11,000 to a Brazilian nonprofit sports organization to settle any potential legal action. Bentz issued a statement saying Lochte tore a sign off a wall at the gas station and got into a heated exchange with the security officers, though Bentz denied the swimmers did any damage to a locked bathroom as authorities alleged.
In the last of three interviews with NBC that included ever-changing accounts of the incident, Lochte apologized and acknowledged he “over-exaggerated the story.” He made a similar mea culpa to Brazil’s main broadcaster, Globo.
Long one of the most popular U.S. athletes, the laid-back swimmer is known for his trademark saying “Jeah!” and such antics as wearing diamond grillz on the medal stand and dying his hair a silvery color before the Rio Games. Lochte also starred in a short-lived reality television show after the 2012 Olympics.
For these games, he qualified in only one individual event, finishing fifth in the 200-meter individual medley, far behind longtime rival Michael Phelps. Lochte did help Phelps and the Americans win gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay.
AP business writers Mae Anderson and Candice Choi in New York and editor Amy Finkelstein in Chicago contributed to this report.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .
CHICAGO (AP) — The head of the Fraternal Order of Police says the Chicago Police Department is violating the due process of seven officers who could lose their jobs for allegedly covering up Laquan McDonald’s 2014 shooting.
A report by Chicago’s inspector general following the release of video of McDonald’s fatal police shooting prompted Superintendent Eddie Johnson to move last week to fire the officers.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson recommended the firing of 10. Johnson rejected the recommendation for one officer, and two others have retired.
Dean Angelo tells the Chicago Sun-Times (http://bit.ly/2bcXRiZ ) the FOP will represent the seven officers before the Chicago Police Board, which will decide their fate. He says their defense is being hampered by the union’s inability to get its hands on the inspector general’s report.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the department will provide the officers a breakdown of their alleged rule violations.
Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://chicago.suntimes.com/
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brief but showstopping gig at the Olympics closing ceremony as the Nintendo game character Super Mario offered a tantalizing glimpse at Tokyo’s plans for the 2020 games.
The organizers for the Tokyo games crammed the works into a brief two-minute film montage before Abe’s appearance: athletes participating in more than a dozen sports, as iconic Japanese images like Tokyo Tower, cherry blossoms, a bullet train, Tokyo Bay Bridge and the famous “scramble” intersection in Shibuya whiz by.
Anime and video game characters including Pac Man and Hello Kitty are featured, along with the beloved blue Doraemon cat, who pulls from his pocket of magic gadgets a green warp pipe to whisk Abe, transformed briefly into Super Mario, from his limousine in Tokyo straight to Rio.
Abe emerges atop the “pipe” in a big red Super Mario cap and costume, holding a glowing red ball kicked to him by famed manga soccer star Captain Tsubasa.
Tokyo 2020 organizers said in a statement that the Super Mario idea came up during a brainstorming session. Staff at Nintendo would say only that the government asked to borrow the character for the show.
At least on Twitter, Abe pretty much upstaged other highlights of the Olympics finale.
Even China’s Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily, not generally a fan of the hawkish Japanese politician, put out a tweet, though without any comment: “#Japanese PM Shinzo Abe appears from imaginary tunnel, disguised as #SuperMario”.
Abe, who emerged from the Super Mario outfit in his usual get-up of a smartly tailored suit and tie, was getting mostly favorable commentary on his impersonation of the game character.
As they gear up for the 2020 games, the organizers appear to have achieved what they were striving for: “Cool!” ”OMG” and “I want to go to Tokyo!” were among various comments on Twitter.
This story has been corrected to show that Abe was not the originator of the Super Mario idea.
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Luis Cessa stood in the dugout before his first major league start with nerves building as each minute passed. A pregame ceremony ran long, and anticipation built for his first-inning showdowns with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
By the time he released his first pitch, he was at ease.
Cessa pitched six scoreless innings to win his first start and help the New York Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 on Saturday night.
“You always worry about how kids are going to react,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You wonder how he’s going to react to that, waiting and waiting and he can’t wait to get out there. But I thought he handled that really well.”
Brian McCann went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run, Starlin Castro went 2 for 4 with two runs and Aaron Judge drove in two. Gary Sanchez hit his fifth home run in six games in the first inning, a two-out solo homer to left field.
Pujols got his 583rd home run in the ninth inning, tying him with former St. Louis Cardinals teammate Mark McGwire for 10th on the career list.
“I think it would have been a little bit more special if we had won,” Pujols said. “But to tie with Mark is very special because he’s a very close friend of mine. We stay in touch and he’s a guy that always helps me out whenever I go through a slump and a guy that mentored me.”
Pujols already had a congratulatory text from McGwire and one of his sons waiting for him after the game.
“He was always pulling for me from day one,” Pujols said. “The whole reason I’m in the big leagues is because when he was in St. Louis he told (former manager Tony LaRussa), ‘You need to take this kid.'”
Cessa (3-0) struck out five and walked one. He struggled just twice, giving up back-to-back two-out singles in the third and hitting Trout in the sixth. An early 3-0 lead further relaxed Cessa.
“I was more aggressive,” Cessa said. “I could throw more fastballs and be more aggressive with everyone.”
After giving up a single to Jefry Marte in the seventh, Cessa was relieved by Tyler Clippard, who nearly gave up a home run to C.J. Cron, but Brett Gardner dived into the stands in left to make the out.
“Right off the bat, I thought it was a home run,” Girardi said. “And then he got closer and closer and I thought, ‘Maybe, maybe. Stay in here, stay in here.’ Outstanding catch. That was a big out.”
After giving up three earned runs in the first inning, Ricky Nolasco (4-11) settled in to cruise through the next five. But with two outs in the sixth, Nolasco gave up back-to-back singles to Castro and McCann. With Judge batting, McCann stole second base — his first steal of the year — allowing both runners to score on Judge’s single to center.
Nolasco gave up five earned on seven hits with seven strikeouts and still hasn’t won at home since May 25, 2015, as a member of the Minnesota Twins. His 15-game home winless streak is the longest active streak in baseball.
Garret Anderson was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame on Saturday. Anderson spoke during a pregame on-field ceremony that included speeches and videos from former teammates, including Tim Salmon and Chili Davis.
One of the most productive offensive players in club history, Anderson is still the Angels’ leader in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles and RBI. Anderson spent 15 of his 17 major league seasons with Los Angeles and is best known for his bases-clearing three-run double that helped the Angels clinch Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.
Yankees: 3B Chase Headley was out of the lineup for the second day with left Achilles tendinitis. Although Headley has been playing on it, he said he’s been having problems for about a week.
Angels: 3B Yunel Escobar was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list after taking a foul ball off of his face on Friday night. Kaleb Cowart was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to take his place on the roster. … RHP Cam Bedrosian hasn’t thrown for two straight days. Manager Mike Scioscia said he’s in a “holding pattern.” Bedrosian was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 9, with right middle finger tendinitis.
Yankees: RHP Chad Green will make his sixth major league start in the series finale. Green struck out a career-high 11 in his start against Toronto and is 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA in his fifth stint with the Yankees this season.
Angels: RHP Jhoulys Chacin lasted only 4 2/3 innings in his last start on Tuesday against Seattle, but didn’t factor into the decision. In his only start against the Yankees, Chacin allowed five earned runs on seven hits and took the loss.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers were almost through parading the American flag around the track — celebrating a bronze medal of all things — when their names flashed on the big board, along with two letters: “DQ.”
The smiles — gone.
Those medals — might be gone, too.
This nightmare — it never ends for the U.S. men in sprint relays.
Rodgers and Gatlin were ruled to have passed the baton before the start of the first passing zone in the men’s 4×100 relay won Friday night by Usain Bolt and Jamaica. After the disqualification, the bronze went to Canada.
Tyson Bromell ran the anchor leg and finished third behind Jamaica and surprising Japan. The American fell over the finish line and was nursing his injured foot while his teammates celebrated what they thought was a bronze medal, which would have been considered a debacle all of its own back in the day.
At this point, they’d take it.
The U.S. protested the call. A decision is expected later Saturday morning. If the disqualification holds up, it will mark the ninth time since 1995 that the U.S. men have somehow botched the relay at a world championship or Olympics.
“It’s always something weird, stupid, simple mistakes that always cost us and I don’t understand,” said Gay, who cost the U.S. another medal, its silver from the London Olympics, because of a doping positive. “We had great sticks in practice, great everything and something so simple — I can’t say anything but bad luck.”
Video replays show a clean handoff from Rodgers to Gatlin, but are less clear about whether Gatlin had taken possession of the stick before Rodgers got it inside the start of the 20-meter passing zone.
Rule 170.07 in the track and field handbook reads: “The baton shall be passed within the takeover zone. The passing of the baton commences when it is first touched by the receiving athlete and is completed the moment it is in the hand of only the receiving athlete. In relation to the takeover zone, it is only the position of the baton which is decisive. Passing of the baton outside the takeover zone shall result in disqualification.”
Hours earlier, down on the track, the runners huddled around a TV monitor and nodded their heads when they saw the replay.
“It was the twilight zone. It was a nightmare,” said Gatlin, who won silver in the 100 sprint, but didn’t make the final of the 200 and could go home empty in the relay, as well. “You work so hard with your teammates, guys you compete against almost all year long. All that hard work just crumbles.”
All those miscues for the country with arguably the deepest pool of sprinting talent, even with Bolt in the mix, has cost them medals and sent the team back to the drawing board time and again.
Dennis Mitchell, who won the relay gold at the Barcelona Games but also has a doping past, is the current coach. Whatever he was teaching didn’t quite hold up.
And this time, the way the Americans received the news was especially cruel.
“Hell, we already did a victory lap,” Gay said. “Right before we were about to talk to TV, they told us.”