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Ryan Lochte Says Dancing With the Stars Team Is His ‘New Family’ After Protest

Dancing With The Stars Cast Visits Planet Hollywood
Bruce Glikas—2016 Bruce Glikas NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Ryan Lochte poses as Season 23 of "Dancing With The Stars" meets the press at Planet Hollywood Times Square on September 7, 2016 in New York City.

He issued a statement after two men rushed the stage wearing "anti-Lochte" shirts this week

Ryan Lochte broke his silence surrounding the Dancing With the Stars incident this week, when two men stormed the stage in protest after his performance on Monday.

In a statement released on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Lochte thanked his family, girlfriend, friends and fans for supporting him after the men, reportedly wearing “anti-Lochte T-shirts,” rushed the stage just before the Olympic swimmer and his dance partner Cheryl Burke were to be judged.

Lochte also extended gratitude to the Dancing With the Stars team.

“When I was asked to do the show, the one thing that I kept hearing was that it was like joining a big family,” he said in the statement. “After Monday’s incident, I now know what that means. I have gotten so much love from everyone on the show, including my partner Cheryl, my fellow competitors, the producers, the security team and its fans. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the show, and more than ever, I am dedicated to my new family and to working hard to do my best.”

During the show Monday, the protestors, Sam Sotoodeh and Barzeen Soroudi, rushed the stage and yelled “liar” at Lochte. The men told the Los Angeles Police Department they were protesting Lochte for falsely claiming he was robbed at gunpoint in Rio during the Olympic Games this summer. Lochte was suspended for ten months for fabricating the story.

The men were arrested for misdemeanor trespassing following the incident and released Tuesday from the Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Detention Center, with their bail set at $1,000 each, ABC News reported. Both are due back in court on Oct. 4.

Sotoodeh defended his and Soroudi’s actions after being released from jail, telling ABC News on Tuesday that they wanted to “get the message out that Lochte is a coward, a liar and, under Brazilian law, a criminal.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance, but we had to say our protest as well,” Soroudi told ABC News.

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