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How Ryan Lochte can save himself

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2016, file photo, United States' Ryan Lochte checks his time after a men' 4x200-meter freestyle relay heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A Brazilian police official told The Associated Press that Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

WASHINGTON — He knows a bit about being an underdog in the pool. But now, can Ryan Lochte learn how to come back after a self-inflicted fall?

“Ryan Lochte has severely damaged his reputation,” said public relations strategist Ramsey Poston of Maryland-based Tuckahoe Strategies. “Reputations are what we all live on — especially athletes who are in need of sponsor dollars.”

And Lochte will see fewer of those sponsorship dollars after he admitted that he lied about being robbed in Rio. Lochte along with Rockville swimmer Jack Conger and two other U.S. swim team members are accused of vandalizing a gas station bathroom and getting into a confrontation with a security guard.

The athletes’ behavior and Lochte’s tales could mean they face sanctions from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Ralph Lauren and Speedo announced Monday that they’re dropping their endorsement deals with Lochte.

Over the years, Lochte has also had endorsement deals with Mutual of Omaha, Gillette, Gatorade, Procter & Gamble, Nissan and AT&T.

“If you ask people how many medals (Lochte) won in Rio, people probably wouldn’t be sure. This has overshadowed his career,” Poston said.

Poston said Lochte can come back — but it will be painful.

“He needs to admit that he did wrong and apologize for the harm that he’s done,” said Poston.

“He needs to take full responsibility for his actions and describe the lessons that he’s learned. And … he needs to address the steps that he’s going to take in order to make it right.”

As for the method: “No more written statements. The American public needs to see into his eyes to show that he truly is sorry.”

Poston said Lochte could do another one-on-one interview or a news conference.

“He needs to fess up and make this right,” Poston said.

Conger released a statement apologizing for the damage and his behavior. But he said he provided truthful statements to authorities, including that a weapon was pointed at the athletes.

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