Brazilian police have charged the American swimmer Ryan Lochte with filing a false report about being robbed at gunpoint during the Olympics. Under Brazilian law the penalty carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail.
Lochte can decide whether to introduce a defense in Brazil, a police statement said, adding that the indictment will also be sent to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ethics commission.
"Once he is summoned, whether he turns up or not, the penalty is the same: one to six months' prison," the news website G1 Rio quoted police official Clemente Braune saying.
The swimmer's spokeswoman, Melissa Nathan, said Lochte had no comment. Lochte apologized last week for saying that he and three teammates had been mugged on their way back from an all-night party by robbers pretending to be police.
Accompanied by Brazilian lawyer Sergio Viegas, second from right, American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, center, and Jack Conger, right, leave the police station at Rio International airport early on August 18
He initially said he and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen had been robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with police badges as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party August 15. Security video showed the four facing security guards after vandalizing a gas station restroom.
Lochte left Brazil shortly after the incident.
Lochte has since acknowledged that he was heavily intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation.
Lochte could be tried in absentia if he doesn't return to face the charge.
Unlikely to be extradited
The US and Brazil have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1960s, but Brazil has a long history of not extraditing its own citizens to other nations and US authorities could take the same stance if Lochte is found guilty.
Lochte lost four major sponsors early this week over the controversy, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren. But on Thursday he picked up a new sponsor - Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops.
The swimmer could also face disciplinary action over the incident by USA Swimming and the International Olympic Committee. He is reportedly planning to take time off from swimming, but wants to return to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He has 12 Olympic medals, second only to Michael Phelps among US male Olympians.
jbh/kl (AP, AFP)