Olympic champion charged over involvement in US Capitol riots

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Klete Keller, pictured here participating in the US Capitol riots.
Klete Keller, who competed against Ian Thorpe in his prime, was filmed participating in the US Capitol riots. Image: Getty/Townhall Media

Olympic gold medallist Klete Keller has been arrested and charged after being identified as a participant in the deadly riots at the US Capitol building.

According to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Washington DC on Wednesday, Keller has been charged with:

  • Obstructing law enforcement engaged in official duties incident to civil disorder

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority

  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds

The FBI reportedly used Keller’s height, his Colorado driver’s license photograph, and his clearly visible Team USA jacket to positively identify him.

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Keller, who won two Olympic gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps, was identified as being among the Donald Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol last week.

Swimming news website SwimSwam said that at least a dozen people within the sport identified the towering man wearing a US Olympic team jacket as Keller after reviewing video and screenshots of the riot.

USA Swimming did not respond when asked whether they could confirm if Keller was part of the crowd that entered the legislative complex as lawmakers began certifying Democrat Joe Biden's November 3 election victory over Trump.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee issued a statement on Wednesday, but didn’t name Keller directly.

“As many of you know, there are reports of an alumni Olympic athlete involved in the horrific acts at the US Capitol building last week,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland.

“I strongly condemn the actions of the rioters at the US Capitol. They do not represent the values of the United States of America or of 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 DC was a case where that standard was clearly not met. The people involved attacked 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.”

A woman who answered the phone for the Colorado and Ohio-based real estate agency where Keller works told Reuters: “we are not commenting on anything right now” and then hung up.

Klete Keller, pictured here at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Klete Keller smiles after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay heat at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (Photo by GREG WOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

Calls for Keller’s Olympic medals to be stripped

In one of the videos, which was taken by a reporter from conservative news outlet Townhall, a man identified as Keller is seen among the crowd that police officers are trying to push toward the US Capitol exits.

Swimming World also said it confirmed with sources that Keller was seen at the US Capitol and added that the videos do not show any violence on the part of the 38-year-old.

According to the New York Times, Keller has deleted his social media accounts, several of which the publication said had included a stream of pro-Trump messaging in recent years.

Keller is a five-times Olympic medallist who held off Australian great Ian Thorpe on the anchor leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Games to win gold for the United States.

He also swam at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, where he claimed a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle behind Thorpe and Grant Hackett.

The American also won silver in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay won in world record time by an Australian team led by Thorpe and Michael Klim.

His involvement in the deadly riots led to widespread condemnation, with many calling for his medals to be stripped.

Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol last Wednesday, prompting chaos in which crowds breached the building and forced the evacuation of both the US Senate and the House of Representatives.

Five people, including a police officer, died as a result of the rampage.

with agencies

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