Olympics

Ryan Lochte dropped by 4 sponsors after Rio incident

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AP

Ryan Lochte dropped by 4 sponsors after Rio incident

Less than 24 hours after the close of the Rio Olympics, Ryan Lochte took a major financial hit Monday for a drunken incident he initially tried to pass off as an armed robbery.

In quick succession, four sponsors announced they were dumping the swimmer, who has since apologized and conceded that he embellished what happened during a now-infamous stop at a Rio gas station.

Swimsuit company Speedo USA, clothing giant Ralph Lauren and skin-care firm Syneron-Candela issued statements less than three hours apart, all with the same message: Lochte is out. Before the day was done, Japanese mattress maker airweave followed suit, essentially wiping out Lochte's income away from the pool.

In addition, Speedo USA said $50,000 that would've gone to the 12-time Olympic medalist was being donated to Save The Children to benefit needy youngsters in Brazil.

"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," the prominent swimsuit company said. "We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience."

Ralph Lauren, which provided the Polo-branded attire worn by the U.S. team at the opening and closing ceremonies, said it would not be renewing the contract that provided Lochte with financial support leading up to Rio. The statement from airweave said it had a similar arrangement with the swimmer. Both stressed they would continue their support of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Syneron-Candela offers a line of skin-treatment products that deal with issues such as wrinkle reduction.

"We hold our employees to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners," the company said.

Lochte issued a statement through his public relations firm thanking Speedo USA for its long support. He did not immediately address the other companies dropping their endorsements.

"I respect Speedo's decision and am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years," Lochte said.

Initially, Lochte said he and three teammates -- Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen -- were robbed after their taxi was pulled over by armed men posing as police just hours after the swimming competition ended in Rio de Janeiro.

That version quickly unraveled when police said the swimmers, who had attended a late-night party, never reported the incident to authorities and there was scant evidence of a robbery. Video surveillance emerged showing the athletes getting into a confrontation with armed security guards over alleged vandalism at the gas station when their taxi pulled over to let them use the restroom.

While there have been conflicting versions over whether the guards pulled their weapons on the swimmers, Lochte has since acknowledged he was highly intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation, which resulted in the swimmers paying some $50 in U.S. and Brazilian currency before they were allowed to leave. The incident caused a furor in Rio, where street crime was a major issue heading into the games.

Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, said he wasn't surprised by the decision since most of Lochte's marketing value was tied to campaigns prior to the Olympics.

"I would think it was an easy decision to cut ties now," Swangard said. "For someone like Lochte, he's really destroyed almost all of his short-term marketability. Brands can easily seek out other athletes for the next Olympic cycle."

The financial costs of losing Speedo and Ralph Lauren are likely to be only the first sanctions that await Lochte, whose antics tarnished a powerful showing by the American team and dominating news away from the stadiums and arenas in the final days of the Rio Games.

Both the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have indicated that Lochte will be punished, perhaps endangering the 32-year-old's hopes of competing in a fifth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020. He could also face criminal charges in Brazil, where the other swimmers were initially barred from leaving the country until they were interviewed by authorities.

Feigen wound up donating just under $11,000 to a Brazilian nonprofit sports organization to settle any potential legal action. Bentz issued a statement saying Lochte tore a sign off a wall at the gas station and got into a heated exchange with the security officers, though Bentz denied the swimmers did any damage to a locked bathroom as authorities alleged.

In the last of three interviews with NBC that included ever-changing accounts of the incident, Lochte apologized and acknowledged he "over-exaggerated the story." He made a similar mea culpa to Brazil's main broadcaster, Globo.

Long one of the most popular U.S. athletes, the laid-back swimmer is known for his trademark saying "Jeah!" and such antics as wearing diamond grillz on the medal stand and dying his hair a silvery color before the Rio Games. Lochte also starred in a short-lived reality television show after the 2012 Olympics.

For these games, he qualified in only one individual event, finishing fifth in the 200-meter individual medley, far behind longtime rival Michael Phelps. Lochte did help Phelps and the Americans win gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay.

AP business writers Mae Anderson and Candice Choi in New York and editor Amy Finkelstein in Chicago contributed to this report.

US romps to men's basketball gold, beats Serbia 96-66

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Associated Press

US romps to men's basketball gold, beats Serbia 96-66

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The U.S. Olympic men's basketball team ended up right where expected.

The Americans got their gold, and they did it easily.

Saving their best for last in a tournament that had been tough, the U.S. convincingly won its third straight gold medal, beating Serbia 96-66 on Sunday.

After a few close calls earlier in the Olympics, this was no contest. Kevin Durant scored 30 points and helped the Americans jump out to a huge lead by halftime.

Paul George said he and his teammates took out their frustrations on Serbia after hearing all the talk about them being less talented than previous U.S. squads and not blowing teams out.

"We did a good job of bottling all that up and unleashed it on Serbia," George said.

It was the final game with the national team for Mike Krzyzewski, who took the Americans back to the top and leaves with them there after becoming the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals.

Carmelo Anthony also picked up his third gold to go with a bronze, becoming the most decorated male in Olympic basketball history.

The U.S. beat Serbia by just 94-91 in pool play, holding on when Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a 3-pointer at buzzer. This rematch looked nothing like that meeting, but it did resemble the final of the 2014 Basketball World Cup, which the Americans won 129-92.

Anthony checked back into the rout in the final minutes so he could grab a seventh rebound, passing David Robinson for U.S. record with the 125th in his Olympic career. He had already become the leading scorer earlier in the tournament, capping an Olympic career that began with disappointment as a member of the U.S. team that finished third in 2004.

The Americans haven't lost since, winning 25 straight in the Olympics.

A few of the victories were more difficult than usual in this tournament, where half the Americans' eight games were decided by 10 points or fewer.

Krzyzewski said it didn't matter how the Americans won, that there would be no questions as long as they did.

And there was no doubt they would Sunday once Durant heated up.

He had also scored 30 in the 2012 gold-medal game, after he poured in a U.S.-record 38 in one game en route to the MVP of the 2010 world basketball championship. He is already the Americans' No. 2 career scorer in the Olympics in just two appearances.

When the final horn sounded, the U.S. players shared long hugs with each other and then Krzyzewski.

DeAndre Jordan went to the stands at Carioca Arena and collected an American flag, which he initially wrapped himself in like a blanket before holding it high over his head for all to see. After a slow start in Rio, there was no doubt about who was on top, and the Americans beamed as they walked off the floor before the medal ceremony where they will again be center court.

It was a tough ending for after an impressive run for Serbia in its first Olympics as an independent nation. The heart of an international power in the former Yugoslavia, the Serbs hadn't qualified for the Olympics since gaining their independence in 2006.

They dropped three games in the group stage but had the look of a team that could challenge the Americans after nearly knocking them off earlier in the tournament and overwhelming Australia in the semifinals.

They were down just 16-15 before Durant made a 3-pointer for the final points of the first quarter, and before then knew it he had turned the game into a blowout.

Two 3-pointers before a steal and dunk pushed the U.S. lead into double digits, and when he capped what may been the Americans' best possessions in Rio, when they whipped the ball from side to side around the perimeter until it ended up in the hands of Durant, and then in the net. That 3 made it 52-29 over the stunned Serbs.

A challenging year for the Americans started long before they boarded the cruise ship they stayed on while in Rio. For the first time since 2004, many top American players opted to skip the Olympics, forcing them to bring some here who wouldn't have been considered otherwise.

The 10 Olympic newcomers seemed to be jelling slowly and the U.S. had a pair of three-point victories and came in winning by just 21.4 points per game, more than 10 per game fewer than four years ago and about half the 43.8 the Dream Team won by in 1992.

Krzyzewski, an assistant on that team at the Barcelona Games, has long insisted that international basketball has gotten too strong for anyone to win that easily again.

Yet on Sunday, the Americans did.

U.S. women's basketball rolls over Spain to earn 6th straight gold medal

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USA Today Images

U.S. women's basketball rolls over Spain to earn 6th straight gold medal

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Geno Auriemma and Diana Taurasi shared a long, emotional embrace. Mission accomplished.

The U.S. women's basketball team won a sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal in dominant fashion, routing Spain 101-72 on Saturday. Taurasi and the Americans played nearly flawless basketball in Rio, and were never challenged. They have won 49 consecutive games in the Olympics with only one of those decided by single digits.

With that kind of sustained success, no one wants to say this is the best women's basketball team ever assembled. They won by nearly 40 points a game, but fell short of the record 102.4 points the 1996 team averaged.

But if they aren't the best ever, they're close. There never really was any doubt that the U.S. would win the gold in Rio. The only question was by how much.

Still, closure to their journey Saturday had Auriemma and Taurasi both fighting back tears.

Unlike their semifinal win over France when the Americans looked discombobulated for a half, the U.S. was more fluid offensively. It helped having guard Sue Bird back in the lineup. The four-time gold medalist missed the semifinal game with a sprained right knee capsule. She wasn't 100 percent Saturday, but was good enough.

The U.S., which beat Spain by 40 in a preliminary round game, got off to a slow start and only led 21-17 after the first quarter. The Americans were up 27-24 in the second quarter before getting going.

Auriemma turned to something very familiar to him to spark the Americans

The UConn coach put his five former Huskie players on the court at the same time for the first time in the Olympics and that group started the 16-3 run that blew it open. Breanna Stewart got the spurt started with two free throws. Taurasi then hit consecutive 3-pointers -- her first points of the game -- as the Americans scored 10 straight.

By the time Lindsay Whalen's layup just beat the halftime buzzer, the U.S. led 49-32 and Spain had just two baskets in the final 6:55 of the half. Whalen finished the game with 17 points, tied for the team lead with Taurasi.

Spain never threatened in the second half. Auriemma started the fourth quarter with Bird, Taurasi and Tamika Catchings on the court and the game in hand. The three four-time Olympians have had a tremendous impact on USA Basketball over the past 12 years. He took the trio out together for one final time with 5:44 left in the game.

Auriemma had said from the start this group was on a mission that is now complete.

Even with the loss, Spain earned its first Olympic medal in women's basketball. The Spaniards have been on the rise lately, also winning a silver medal at the 2014 world championship. They are hosting the 2018 worlds.

But Saturday, just like the rest of this tournament, was all about the U.S.

No American team has been deeper with Catchings as its 12th player. They trailed for just over 11 minutes in the entire Olympics and the biggest deficit was just four points -- 6-2 to France. They never were down after the first quarter and with the exception of the semifinal win over France, all the games were pretty much after 20 minutes.

It's been quite a run for this edition of the U.S. women's basketball dynasty. This group of 12 has combined for 29 Olympic gold medals -- the most ever for any team.

This game marked the end of Catchings' Olympic career. She is retiring at the end of the WNBA season. Taurasi and Bird have hinted that this will be their final Olympics although both could still return in four years in Tokyo. The trio joined Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards as the only Olympians to win four gold medals.

Even if the three players don't wear the red, white and blue again, the future remains bright for the U.S. Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner and Stewart all won their first Olympic golds. Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Angel McCoughtry should be back in 2020 as well, providing a solid nucleus for USA Basketball to build on.