(ATR) Ryan Lochte must wait a while longer to hear the final ramifications for his misconduct in Rio.
The United States Olympic Committee said the punishment for Lochte and the other three swimmers would be decided when the USOC returns to the U.S.
However, USOC spokesperson Mark Jones tells Around the Rings there is "no timeline" for the punishment to be decided upon their return. The USOC would not give clues as to when its executives will be returning to the States, following the policy it issued regarding Lochte’s whereabouts that it does not supply travel information for safety purposes.
Lochte told NBC that he and fellow swimmersJimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were robbed after a night out in Rio. Details later emerged that Lochte's story was fabricated, sparking an investigation by Brazilian police.
Lochte left Brazil a day before a Brazilian judge ordered police to seize the swimmers passports for further questioning. Feigen, Bentz and Conger returned to the U.S. a few days later than Lochte after speaking with police. Feigen was ordered to pay a $10,800 donation in order to drop the charges.
Feigen apologized on Wednesday for his involvement in the incident.
"It was never my intent to draw attention away from the tradition of athletic competition and the symbolic cooperation of countries participating in the Olympic Games," Feigen said in a statement. "I am so sorry for the drama this has caused in everyone’s lives. I am very thankful to be home in the United States with my family and that this ordeal has come to an end."
Any punishment handed down by the USOC will amplify the negative publicity Lochte is receiving. That publicity has already led to each of his major sponsors – Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Syneron Candela – to drop him as a client.
"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," Speedo said in a statement, adding it would donate $50,000 of Lochte’s fee to the Save the Children foundation for children in Brazil.
President of Premier Management Group Evan Morgenstein tells ATR that Lochte’s ability to bounce-back from these actions will largely depend on the USOC’s eventual punishment. Morgenstein is a sports agent who has previously represented swimmers competing in the Olympics.
"If the USOC takes his Rio medal away citing code of conduct violations, this will deepen the problem for Ryan," he says. "If he gets a slap on the wrist, he will have less obstacles."
Morgenstein adds that the sponsorship loss will have a major financial impact on Lochte for the next six months. After that, Lochte could rebound financiall by capitalizing on his large social media following.
"It is highly unlikely that Ryan will be able to amass the list of international sponsors paying him the type of money he has been making," he tells ATR. "Ryan has a large millennial social media audience who, like Ryan, are anti corporate control of their lives. I think Ryan could make $1 million a year doing social media posts, creating his own fee for content."
The key to Lochte’s future success may lie in partnering with companies that are also active on social media and may overlook his misconduct in Rio. After all, "no press is bad press".
"Companies such as Fit Tea and others that have built huge audiences on social are Ryan's pathway to financial success," says Morgenstein.
America’s proclivity for forgiving famous athletes could also mitigate the damage to Lochte’s image. Fellow Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps also had his share of bad publicity follwing a pair of drunken driving charges. Eventually, the attention shifted to focus on his career, and performance in the Olympics.
"Others have been through public shaming in sports: Fab-5 from Michigan taking money in college, Reggie Bush for the same, Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant and others," Morgenstein points out. "Candidly, Ryan's biggest challenge is that his best days in swimming are behind him. Like Phelps, if he became a winner again, anything is possible."
Written by Kevin Nutley
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