US Olympic swimming medalist Klete Keller indicted in riot on Capitol Hill

Five-time Olympic swimming medalist Klete Keller was charged on Wednesday with participating in a deadly riot at the United States Capitol after a video was released that appeared to show him among those who stormed the building last week .

An FBI complaint filed in United States District Court, citing screenshots from the video, requested a warrant accusing Keller of knowingly entering a restricted building to obstruct official government office, disorderly conduct and obstruction of law enforcement officials during the frightening ordeal.

It was not clear whether he had been taken into custody.

Thousands of supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a joint session of Congress on January 6 as lawmakers gathered to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

Keller, 38, competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. He won two gold and one silver as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay, as well as two bronze medals. individual at 400 free.

Messages seeking comment were not returned by Keller or her sister, former Olympic swimmer Kalyn Keller.

“We respect the rights of individuals and groups to demonstrate peacefully, but in no way endorse the actions taken by those on Capitol Hill last week,” USA Swimming said in a statement, noting that Keller was no longer a member of organization since retiring after the 2008 Beijing Games.

Keller’s alleged participation in the Capitol protest was first reported this week by SwimSwam, a site dedicated to coverage of competitive swimming and other water sports.

It pointed to a video posted to social media by Townhall reporter Julio Rosas, which showed a tall man wearing a US Olympic team jacket among rioters as officers attempted to clear the rotunda.

SwimSwam said at least a dozen people in the sport identified the man as Keller after reviewing the video and screenshots.

The FBI affidavit specifically cited screenshots showing the person identified as Keller wearing the distinctive jacket.

He also noted that the former swimmer is listed as 6 feet 6 inches tall and that the person in the video “appears to be one of the taller people in the video depicting individuals in the rotunda.”

Keller trained for several years under coach Bob Bowman, who is best known as the longtime coach and mentor of Michael Phelps, winner of the most gold medals in Olympic history. .

Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, denounced the melee which left five dead.

“I strongly condemn the actions of the rioters on the US Capitol,” she said in a statement. “They do not represent the values ​​of the United States of America or Team USA.”

Hirshland went on to say, “At home and around the world, Team America’s athletes are held to a very high standard because they represent our country on and off the pitch. What happened in Washington, DC, was a case where this was clearly not being met. Those involved attacked the very fabric of democracy that we all proudly represent and, in turn, let down our community as well. together against hatred and division, and use our influence to create positive change in our community. “

Keller’s social media accounts were shut down, but they reportedly showed he was a staunch supporter of Trump.

Keller’s athletic achievements are unlikely to be affected by the accusations, although he could be avoided by USA Swimming and the USOPC at promotional events and other functions featuring former Olympians.

The International Olympic Committee has only withdrawn medals from athletes who have broken doping rules or other regulations during competition.

Keller, who grew up in Arizona, worked in Colorado as an independent contractor for real estate company Hoff & Leigh, which said on its website that he advised “industrial owners and sellers to maximize the value of their assets. industrial”.

Hoff & Leigh released a statement to SwimSwam on Tuesday saying Keller has resigned.

“Hoff & Leigh supports the right to free speech and a legal protest,” the company said. “But we cannot tolerate actions that violate the rule of law.”

A longtime mainstay of the United States National Team, Keller was a member of 800 free relay teams that helped Phelps win two of his record 23 gold medals.

Keller was the mainstay of the winning team at the 2004 Athens Games, which also included Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay. Keller posted the fastest division in the group.

Four years later, Keller anchored the relay in the preliminaries, propelling the Americans to the fastest time, but he did not make the final. Phelps, Lochte, Ricky Berens and Vanderkaay put on a world record performance that was part of Phelps’ record eight gold medals in Beijing.

Keller struggled to adjust to post-Olympic life.

In interviews with the Olympic Channel and USA Swimming podcast, he admitted to being a bad employee and feeling empowered because of his athletic success. The issues spilled over into his personal life, resulting in a divorce that left him living in his car for 10 months and a loss of visitation that kept him from seeing his children for years.

He thanked his family and especially his sister for helping him get his life back on track.

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