Shouting ‘liar, liar,’ protesters disrupt Lochte’s dancing debut
(Reuters) – “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron said on Tuesday he was shocked and unnerved by protesters who shouted “liar, liar” and rushed the stage after a live performance by Ryan Lochte, the gold-medal U.S. swimmer who said he had been robbed at gunpoint at the Rio Olympics.
The two protesters were tackled by security and arrested for trespass and other people in the audience booed before being removed by security, the ABC network and police said.
Lochte appeared shaken by the incident on Monday night’s show in Los Angeles. Afterward, he told journalists he first thought the disturbance was a joke.
ABC on Tuesday released video of the incident, which was not seen by audiences at home when Bergeron cut to a commercial on Monday night.
It showed two men wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts going on the stage, shouting as they walked near Lochte, while he and dance partner Cheryl Burke were being critiqued by judges after their foxtrot. Four women in the audience, wearing the same T-shirts, booed and were shown leaving. No one was injured.
“We were shocked and we have a very good security system here,” Bergeron told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
In Rio, Lochte said that he and three teammates were robbed and that he had a gun pointed at his head by robbers but it was later revealed that the Olympians had vandalized a gas station after a night of partying and been confronted by security guards.
In the aftermath, Lochte lost all four of his sponsors and was suspended from U.S. swimming competition for 10 months. He apologized for the incident, acknowledged exaggerating his story and said he lied when he said a gun was held to his head.
Bergeron denied the incident was a pre-arranged stunt. “There are always skeptics about everything but look, it wasn’t a bit,” Bergeron said. “It was really unnerving and again, I applaud our security team for making it very short.”
Bergeron said “the mood in the room was definitely in Ryan’s corner after these guys were escorted out.”
The 12-time Olympic medalist is the most high profile celebrity on the 23rd season of “Dancing With the Stars,” which has been a popular venue for those seeking a comeback or trying to change their image.
Lochte and Burke got a respectable score of 24 for their dance but were topped by U.S. Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and her partner with 31. No one has yet been voted off the show by the audience.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott)