Longtime U.S. swimming star Ryan Lochte has been banned from competition until July 2019, preventing the 12-time Olympic medalist from competing as planned in the national championships that start this week in California.
Lochte will also be ineligible for other top meets, including the Pan Pacific Championships later this year and next year’s world championships.
The criminal offense involved Olympic star receiving an intravenous injection in May, which is a method typically banned under anti-doping rules.
Notably, the 14-month ban, retroactive to May 24 and announced Monday by USADA, is his second in less than two years after his 10-month suspension for his behavior during a drunken incident that created widespread scorn at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
U.S. anti-doping officials said Lochte, who was holding a news conference Monday in South Florida to discuss the matter, was not taking a banned substance.
“I have never taken a prohibitive substance,” Lochte said. “I have never attempted to gain any advantage by putting anything illegal in my body. I would never do that; this is very serious to me. … Unfortunately, while the rule is a newer rule and is not widely known as others, I should know better.”
Lochte’s violation essentially came to light when he posted the photo of him getting the IV on his social media accounts. That triggered the USADA investigation, one that Lochte “fully cooperated” with according to U.S. officials.
“Lochte received an intravenous infusion of permitted substances at an infusion clinic,” the USADA announcement of the suspension said. Under most circumstances, athletes cannot receive IVs unless related to a hospitalization or when allowed under the terms of a USADA-approved exemption — and Lochte fell into neither of those categories.