Ryan Lochte opposers defend ‘DWTS’ protest: ‘He embarrassed Americans’
The two men who disrupted the “Dancing With the Stars” Season 23 premiere broadcast to protest Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte do not regret their actions.
Sam Sotoodeh and Barzeen Soroudi spoke to the media after they were released from a Los Angeles jail Tuesday on $1,000 bail, maintaining that they had no intentions to physically hurt the 12-time Olympic medalist. They explained they ran onto the ballroom floor to protest Lochte's casting on the reality TV series following his “overexaggeration” of a Rio gas station incident that put a damper on an otherwise stellar Team USA showing at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“Our purpose is to get the message out that Lochte is a coward, a liar and under Brazilian law, a criminal,” 59-year-old Sotoodeh said, as reported by E! News.
Sotoodeh also added that Lochte “should not be rewarded” for lying in Rio, ABC News reported.
“It was just a protest, a non-violent protest,” Soroudi, 25, added. “We didn't agree obviously with the Walt Disney Company choosing Lochte to represent Americans. Yes, he did receive gold medals but what he did in Rio did not represent Americans well.
“I want the world to know, I want America to know, that we don't take what he did lightly. He embarrassed Americans on the world's stage and this was our form of protesting.”
Lochte has been suspended for 10 months by the USOC and USA Swimming for the Rio gas station incident, and will also miss the 2017 swimming world championships.
The 32-year-old, whose participation in the ballroom reality series appears to be an effort to rehabilitate his image, posted this on his Twitter account on Wednesday:
Sotoodeh and Soroudi are due back in court Oct. 4.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) September 13, 2016
— George Pennacchio (@abc7george) September 13, 2016
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) September 14, 2016