On Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s debut of “Dancing with the Stars,” two men rushed the stage after his performance and while he was getting feedback from one of the judges.
“You know, at that moment, I was really heartbroken. My heart just sunk. It felt like somebody just ripped it apart,” Lochte said following the incident.
The two men later released messages for why they had rushed the stage.
“Our purpose is to get the message out that Lochte is a coward, a liar, and under Brazilian law, a criminal,” Sam Sotoodeh told ABC News after being released from jail on Sept. 13.
The second man, Barzeen Soroudi, added, “[Lochte] embarrassed Americans on the world’s stage, and this was our form of protesting against that.”
The protesters were referring to Lochte’s behavior outside of the pool. Following his performance at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, Lochte and swimming teammates Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, were brought in for questioning regarding an incident that occurred at a gas station in a Brazilian neighborhood. The swimmers claimed that they had been robbed by men with badges, and that at one point in the robbery, a gun had been held to Lochte’s head.
The story that was later surfaced was that the swimmers, who had attended a party in the Athletes Village, stopped at the gas station under the influence of alcohol. The athletes broke a mirror and a soap dispenser inside the bathroom, tore a sign off the bathroom door, and were also caught urinating behind the gas station.
A police officer confronted them from outside of their taxi, pulled out his gun, and demanded that the swimmers pay for the damage in the bathroom. A bystander rushed to the scene to translate the officer’s Portuguese into English.
The swimmers paid for the damages with cash and left the premises. Much controversy was created due to this event about the athletes. Lochte has since been suspended from performing in swimming events for 10 months.
Lochte is now trying to repair his broken image by becoming a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars,” one of America’s most popular dancing shows. Some believe the protesters’ actions will only call further attention to his previous actions, as well as distract him from the competition itself.
“So many feelings are going through my head right now,” Lochte said about what had happened on stage. “I’m a little hurt.”
Despite the controversy surrounding him, Lochte will continue dancing on the show this season.