(ATR) Five-time U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Klete Keller has been arrested and charged in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol building after video unveiled appears to depict him in last week’s deadly attack.
Keller, 38, a three-time Olympian, was charged with obstructing law enforcement engaged in official duties, unlawfully entering Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct on federal property.
An FBI complaint filed in U.S. District Court, citing video evidence that had been made public, initially requested the warrant charging Keller. His identity confirmed by at least a dozen swimmers, the six-foot-six athlete is seen wearing a U.S. Olympic team jacket during the deadly melee.
Keller swam to two gold medals and a silver as a member of the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay team, in addition to a pair of individual bronze medals in the 400 freestyle, having represented the U.S. at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. He shared his 2004 and 2008 relay medals with U.S. stars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
Prior to the confirmation of Keller’s identity and participation in Washington D.C., U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland said the USOPC would wait for the legal process to play out “and then evaluate any appropriate actions of our own”.
In a statement, Hirshland said “I strongly condemn the actions of the rioters at the U.S. Capitol. They do not represent the values of the United States of America or Team USA.
“At home, and around the world, Team USA athletes are held to a very high standard as they represent our country on the field of play and off. What happened in Washington D.C., was a case where that standard was clearly not met.
“The people involved attached the very fabric of the democracy we all proudly represent and, in turn, also let our community down. I urge everyone associated with Team USA to continue to celebrate our diversity of background and beliefs, stand together against hatred and divisiveness, and use our influence to create positive change in our community.”
USA Swimming also issued a statement on Keller, noting that he has not been a member of the organization since his retirement from competition in 2008.
“We respect private individuals’ and groups’ rights to peacefully protest but in no way condone the actions taken by those at the Capitol last week,” the terse statement read.
Keller’s alleged participation in the protest at the U.S. Capitol building involving supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump, was first reported by SwimSwam, a website dedicated to coverage of competitive swimming and other aquatic sports.
Despite public outcry on social media, it appears unlikely that Keller’s Olympic medals and athletic accomplishments will be affected by the charges, however it seems likely that he could face a ban by USA Swimming and the USOPC from promotional events and other functions involving Olympians.
The International Olympic Committee has only stripped medals from athletes who have violated doping rules or other regulations during competition.
A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Keller has been working as a contractor for a local real estate and property management company, Hoff & Leigh. On Tuesday evening the company released him from all duties.
According to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, 89 Olympians have previously been sentenced to jail. In 1997, another U.S. swimmer, Doug Northway, pleaded guilty to attempted molestation of a nine-year-old girl he was coaching and was sentenced to four months in prison, four months of house arrest and lifetime probation.
Most recently, Norwegian cross-country star and four-time Olympic medalist Petter Northug was sentenced to seven months in prison on December 21, 2020, for reckless high speed driving and illegal possession of six grams of cocaine and additional illegal drugs.
There is no further timeframe on when Keller is expected to appear and be charged before a court.
Written by Brian Pinelli
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