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Speedo USA, 3 other sponsors drop Lochte after Rio incident

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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.

 

WATCH: Relive Usain Bolt’s three Olympic gold medal runs in 100m

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Usain Bolt makes it look easy.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bolt was a precocious 21-year-old that begged his coach to let him run in both the 100- and 200-meter sprint. Even at the ripe young age of 21, fans watched in awe and anticipation as Usain ‘Lighting’ Bolt took off, winning “by daylight.”

Four years later at the 2012 London Olympic games, Bolt did it again. He exploded off the block, sprinting his way to victory in order to keep his title as the king of the 100-meter sprint.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics fans watched on as Bolt took a different approach to winning. He didn’t blow away the field right away as per usual. He watched Justin Gatlin pull ahead to a sizable lead. Yet, in typical Bolt fashion, he ran Gatlin down, winning the 100-meter sprint, keeping up his image of impenetrability.

Throughout Bolt’s career his consistency and drive have never wavered. It doesn’t matter who has the lead, if there’s a will, there’s a way with Bolt.

An incredible athlete and an even better showman, Bolt’s retirement leaves a gaping hole to be filled. Every time the gun goes off and the fans roar, Bolt is ready to perform. It’s as if the roar of the crowd energizes Bolt, propelling him forward as he sprints his way to victory, time and time again.

Lindsey Vonn pulls out of Sunday’s World Cup race

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CRANS MONTANA, Switzerland — Lindsey Vonn has pulled out of the World Cup Alpine combined race on Sunday, completing a miserable weekend in Crans Montana for the American skier.

Vonn crashed in the super-G on Saturday, although after an anxious wait she was able to ski down the course.

The former Olympic champion also withdrew from another combined race on Friday, along with overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin and their American teammate Laurenne Ross, because of dangerous conditions on the course. In posts on social media that night she said she had food poisoning, and the next morning had not fully recovered but would race.

Late Saturday she wrote on Twitter: “Unfortunately after getting food poisoning and crashing today I don’t feel healthy enough to safely race tomorrow so I will not be starting.”

Vonn pulled out of Friday’s race after the first three competitors crashed, and one was taken away on a stretcher with a knee injury.

The event was postponed and the start was lowered but Vonn didn’t want to risk herself, and criticized organizers for not cancelling the race.

Vonn returned to competition only last month after nearly a year out with knee and arm injuries.

The announcement of her name on Saturday as she prepared to start the super-G prompted a smattering of boos among spectators. There were loud gasps when she lost control and fell, sliding several feet before crashing into the safety netting.

There was a worrying few minutes as Vonn remained down. Other competitors were clearly concerned for her. However, the four-time World Cup overall champion was able to ski down to the finish area, where she was greeted with loud cheers.

Vonn was visibly upset and appeared to be crying as she was comforted by teammate Julia Mancuso.