Swimmer Ryan Lochte cleared of criminal charges in Rio Olympics scandal

The court decided that the interview he gave to NBC, in which he claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint, could not be considered evidence

An appellate court in Brazil has cleared United States swimmer, and Olympian, Ryan Lochte of a charge that originated last summer at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to ESPN.

You may remember that Lochte, 32, was accused of falsely reporting a crime when he claimed that he, along with fellow Olympians Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were robbed by men pretending to be police officers on their way back to Olympic Village. Authorities indicated that his entire story was a fabrication, citing surveillance footage that allegedly shows a drunken Lochte vandalizing the bathroom of a Shell gas station.

Now, the Criminal Justice Court of the state of Rio de Janeiro has dismissed the criminal case against the six-time Olympic gold medalist. A three-judge panel voted 2-1 to close the case Thursday, according to court documents.

The dismissal is due to the fact that Lochte’s interview with NBC, in which he made the claim, could not be considered evidence of a false report.

Lochte’s attorney, Jeff Ostrow, issued a statement to USA Today that hailed the court’s decision as a definitive victory for his client.

“We are pleased that the court has finally dismissed the criminal prosecution against Mr. Lochte, while at the same time, appropriately recognizing that he committed no crime. It has been a long year, but in the end, justice prevailed,” he said.

The fallout was swift for Lochte when the original scandal hit. The United States Olympic Committee suspended him for 10 months and ordered him to perform community service, according to US Weekly. He also lost a number of lucrative sponsorship deals.

Prosecutors have 15 days to decide whether they will challenge the ruling.

[Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons]