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Sponsors drop Ryan Lochte after Rio debacle

Major brands dropped Ryan Lochte en masse on Monday, in the wake of an incident at the Rio Olympics where the swimmer misrepresented a claim that he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint.

In a bizarre twist to a story that broke last week, Lochte admitted that he may have exaggerated his initial account about being held up in Rio de Janeiro. Local police countered his claims, saying that Lochte and his teammates had actually been confronted by private security guards after damaging a gas station bathroom.

In response, a number of high profile endorsers have broken ties with the swimmer. Speedo USA was the first of three sponsors to announce that it is ending its sponsorship of Lochte.

The swimwear subsidiary of PVH said that although it has "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."

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

Speedo said it will also donate $50,000 "of Lochte's fee to Save The Children, a global charity partner of Speedo USA's parent company, for children in Brazil."

Lochte said in a statement to E! News, "I respect Speedo's decision and am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years. I am proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved together."

Ryan Lochte of the United States stands behind the starting block prior to swimming.
Getty Images
Ryan Lochte of the United States stands behind the starting block prior to swimming.

Later on Monday, a spokesman for Ralph Lauren said in a statement that the company will not be renewing its contract with Lochte, which "was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games." The company also said that it "continues to proudly sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody."

In addition, Reuters reported that Syneron Candela, parent of Gentle Hair Removal, will also be ending its partnership with Lochte. In April, the company had named the Olympic swimmer as the global brand ambassador for its Gentle Laser Hair Removal system.

Mattress producer Airweave also dropped Lochte, saying that its "endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games."

Sports management experts told CNBC last week that Lochte damaged his reputation and future endorsement earnings by not being "candid" about what actually happened.

Last week, Lochte posted an apology on his Instagram account, saying, "I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, mys ponsors, and the hosts of this great event."

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

In an interview on Brazilian TV, Lochte apologized to the nation. "Brazil doesn't deserve that," he said.

The Olympian insisted that he was a victim of extortion because he was forced by armed guards to hand over money.

"I wasn't lying to a certain extent," he said. "I over-exaggerated what was happening to me."

— NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.