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Lochte to make competitive return next week after 14-month ban

Lochte to make competitive return next week after 14-month ban
FILE PHOTO: Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte of the U.S speaks at a news conference at an event to unveil the new line of Speedo LZR Racer X swim suits in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S. on December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo -
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Mike Segar(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Six-time Olympic gold medallist Ryan Lochte will return to competition following a 14-month doping ban at next week’s Phillips 66 National Championships in Palo Alto, California, USA Swimming said on Thursday.

Lochte, who was banned for taking an intravenous infusion, has been entered in six events at the July 31-Aug. 4 meet.

The 34-year-old American’s comeback will begin with a 100-metre freestyle on Wednesday and a news conference will be held following the completion of the morning preliminaries.

Lochte posted an image on social media last year showing himself receiving an infusion of permitted substances and was later banned after a subsequent investigation revealed it exceeded permissible levels.

The ban was announced by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last July but Lochte’s period of ineligibility began on May 24 on 2018, the date of the infusion.

In its ruling, USADA said intravenous infusions or injections in excess of 100mL within a 12-hour period and without a therapeutic use exemption certificate are prohibited, unless legitimately received in the course of hospital treatment.

Lochte, who made headlines in 2016 over a tale about being robbed and held at gunpoint after a party during the Rio Olympics which he later admitted was “over-exaggerated”, fully cooperated with the investigation.

He later told a news conference he was devastated by the ban and that he never attempted to gain any advantage over his competition by putting anything illegal in his body.

“A rule is a rule and I accept there is a technical violation,” said Lochte. “I wasn’t taking anything that was banned or prohibited. I am hopeful other athletes learn from my mistake.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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