Olympic gold medal-winner Ryan Lochte dropped by Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime show to discuss is new gig on Dancing with the Stars and advice he received from Michael Phelps in the aftermath of his Olympic “robbery” scandal. Lochte also got candid about his 10-month suspension from competitive swimming, which had been issued the day of filming.
“You know, I’ve been swimming my entire life,” he said. “And I’ve never taken a break and for someone telling me I can’t do something I’ve been doing my entire life… It’s heart breaking and it stinks but there is some much more I want accomplish in the sport of swimming so I do know that I’m still going to be training and when I do come back I’m going to definitely be a better swimmer and a better person.”
Lochte also clarified that his new role on Dancing with the Stars was inked before he found himself at the center of an international controversy, despite the appearance that the gig is a bit of damage control for his public persona.
“No, no. I decided to do this a month before all this has happened,” he said, then explained that afterwards he debated dropping the reality show role. “I was in a really dark place and I didn’t know if I should come out, just hide my entire life, but I reached to my family and my friends and they kept me positive and said you know you have to do this, you have to get out there.”
After the Rio incident, the 31-year-old pro athlete mentioned that he asked Phelps for advice on how to handle the turbulent situation, and Phelps offered Lochte some invaluable words of wisdom.
“I reached out to him because I knew he hit a low point in his life and he bounced back from it and I knew his answer was gonna be really honest because of our relationship over the years and he said, ‘It’s not what you did, it’s what you do now that will shape who you are.’”
Check out the full clip above.