Ryan Lochte sponsors review relationship with shamed Olympian
Speedo and Ralph Lauren are among the sponsors of US Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte, who are now reviewing their ties with the Rio Olympics gold medallist following his lies about being robbed at gunpoint.
The 32 year-old's claim that he and three other Team USA swimmers- Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen- were robbed at gunpoint was found to have been fabricated in an attempt to cover up a drunken night which ended with them vandalizing a gas station toilet.
After being detained by Rio police, Lochte has since been released and has left Brazil. However the controversy surrounding the incident is likely to have long-term consequences for the six-time Olympic gold medallist as his sponsors now look on wearily while contemplating whether to drop the athlete.
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One of his sponsors Speedo released this statement saying that it was “following the situation, and has a policy not to comment on ongoing legal investigations”.
Ralph Lauren, a sponsor of both Lochte and the US Olympic Committee , said it was “working closely with the USOC" and reviewing the situation.
One sponsor who appeared less tentative over standing by him was Japanese mattress manufacturer Airweave.
The chief executive of the company said: “I respect the athletic performance of Ryan, and as long as he is a respectable athlete, he will remain the U.S. ambassador for Airweave as long as our partnership agreement remains effective. We are focused on supporting Team USA and our support to them will remain the same."
Endorsement deals will be key if Lochte wants to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and prior there was a greater potential for new sponsors with Michael Phelps retiring, however the scandal is likely to have deterred any prospective brands from partnering with him.