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Rowdy Gaines comments on Ryan Lochte’s suspension (video)

Ryan Lochte

OMAHA, NE - JULY 01: Ryan Lochte of the United States reacts after the final heat for the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley during Day Six of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 1, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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If Ryan Lochte is banned for the bulk of the 2017 season, including the world championships, as reports say, it might not hurt as much as another year, NBC Olympic analyst Rowdy Gaines said on TODAY on Thursday.

“It’s the year after the Olympic Games, so I think a lot of the big names are taking a year off anyway,” Gaines said.

Other top swimmers have taken the post-Olympic year off, recently Natalie Coughlin in 2009 and Michael Phelps in 2013, though Phelps retired in 2012 and came back to competition in 2014.

The 32-year-old Lochte said in Rio, before the gas-station incident, that he planned to continue swimming. If he is banned from the 2017 Worlds, he couldn’t compete in another world championships or Olympics until the summer he turns 35 in 2019.

Lochte refused to comment to media at Los Angeles International Airport overnight Wednesday to Thursday, only saying “yeah” after being asked if he learned of the news while on his flight.

Neither Lochte’s representatives nor USA Swimming or the U.S. Olympic Committee have commented on the reported suspension of 10 months plus the 2017 World Championships.

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