Ryan Lochte made a huge mistake.
Ryan Lochte made a huge mistake.

Is this the dumbest Instagram post of the year?

RYAN Lochte posted a photo for the world to see, and the US Anti-Doping Agency noticed.

It got him suspended - again.

The longtime American swimming star has been banned from competition until July 2019, which means the 12-time Olympic medallist cannot compete as planned in the national championships that start this week in California.

Lochte will also be ineligible for other top meets, including the Pan Pacific Championships later this year and next year's world championships.

Lochte's offence was that he got an intravenous injection in May - a method typically banned under anti-doping rules.

The 14-month ban, retroactive to May 24 and announced on Tuesday (AEST) by USADA, is his second in less than two years following his 10-month suspension for his behaviour during a drunken incident that created widespread scorn at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

US anti-doping officials said Lochte was not taking a banned substance, and he addressed the matter at a news conference on Tuesday where he suggested he wasn't going to give up on competing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

"I wasn't taking anything illegal," Lochte said. "Everything was legal. You can get it at (pharmacies) CVS and Walgreens, but there are rules, and you have to obey them … Don't worry. I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep going.

"It's devastating to my family about this because I definitely made myself a better person after Rio, and I was back in training.

"I was feeling good. I was swimming fast. My son being born. Everything was happening. Everything was perfect, and then this happened. And it's devastating."

Lochte's violation essentially came to light when he posted the photo of him getting the IV on his social media accounts.

That triggered the USADA investigation, one that Lochte "fully co-operated" with, according to US officials.

"Lochte received an intravenous infusion of permitted substances at an infusion clinic," the USADA announcement of the suspension said.

Under most circumstances, athletes cannot receive IVs unless related to a hospitalisation or when allowed under the terms of a USADA-approved exemption - and Lochte fell into neither of those categories.

Oh Ryan, what were you thinking?
Oh Ryan, what were you thinking?

Suspensions for use of an IV are extremely rare.

The USADA database shows only two other athletes being sanctioned for using such a method, one of them getting a six-month suspension and the other a 14-month ban.

That same database shows that before Tuesday no other US swimmer in the past 10 years, for any reason including actual positive tests, had been suspended for more than one year by USADA.

This week could have been a significant step forward for Lochte, who was entered in four events at the US championships in California and was preparing to compete in what would have been his biggest competition since the Rio Games.

Lochte said that he and three other US Olympic swimmers were robbed at gunpoint at a petrol station in Brazil, a story that quickly unravelled.

Lochte was not only suspended 10 months for that debacle, but also forfeited $US100,000 in Olympic medal bonus money and was banned from competing in last year's national and world championships.

But the bigger hit was to his reputation, one that was less than pristine to begin with.

And now, he's back in hot water. USADA agreed to start the 14-month clock on May 24, the day that he posted the photo which no longer can be found on his Twitter or Instagram pages.

Lochte’s life has taken another downward turn.
Lochte’s life has taken another downward turn.

Lochte spent much of his career portraying a party-boy image, while his wildly successful exploits in the pool - six Olympic golds, 36 world championship gold medals, no fewer than four world records - were always overshadowed by 28-time Olympic medallist and 23-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps.

After Rio, Lochte was dropped by at least four major sponsors including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, though he has added some endorsement deals since.

Lochte returned to competition last year, most notably winning the 200m individual medley at the US Open.

He also has become a father and a husband since Rio - he married former Playboy model Kayla Rae Reid in January, seven months after their son was born.

Lochte will turn 36 during the Tokyo Games. He won gold medals at the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 games, and if he found a way to win another in Tokyo he would become the oldest Olympic swimming champion.

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