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US Olympic gold medal swimmer charged for participating in Capitol riot

Klete Keller has been identified by former coaches and teammates as having been inside the Capitol during the riot, according to multiple reports.
/ Source: TODAY

A former Olympic swimmer who won gold as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps has been charged for participating in last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

According to a criminal complaint, Klete Keller, 38, was charged with obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct.

Keller was identified by former teammates and coaches as being among the rioters inside the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6 from video footage shot inside the building, according to an initial report by the swimming news website SwimSwam and subsequent reports by the The Washington Post and The New York Times.

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Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller, shown at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, has been identified by former teammates and coaches to multiple outlets as having been present during the riot in the U.S. Capitol. GREG WOOD / AFP - Getty Images

The 6-foot-6 Keller can be seen towering over a crowd and wearing a U.S. Olympic team jacket with "USA" across the back, according to the reports.

NBC News has reached out to Keller but has not received any response. NBC News, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have all been unable to confirm that it was Keller in the videos and photos.

"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," USA Swimming said in a statement.

NBC News White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett shared news of the federal charges against Keller in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

"Former USA Olympic swimmer Klete Keller has been charged in federal court for participating in the Capitol riot, court records show. Keller, who medaled in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics was seen on video in the Capitol wearing a USA Swimming jacket."

No video has emerged of Keller participating in any violent acts in the Capitol during a riot that has been linked to five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer. Several dozen people who entered the Capitol have been charged with unlawful entry on the Capitol grounds, a crime under the district's criminal code and federal law.

A video shot from inside the Capitol by a reporter from Townhall.com, a conservative news website, shows a tall, bearded man in a Team USA jacket among a large group of protesters being shoved and pushed as police try to clear the area.

The man has been identified by former teammates and coaches as Keller, according to multiple reports. Two people who know Keller from the swimming world, but were not otherwise identified, told The Washington Post the man was Keller.

Keller has deleted his social media accounts. They previously contained pro-Trump messages, according to SwimSwam.

He won five Olympic medals, including two gold medals, in the Olympics of 2000, 2004 and 2008. He was part of two winning 800-freestyle relay teams in 2004 and 2008, which included holding off Australian star Ian Thorpe on the anchor leg of the relay to secure the gold in 2004.

Keller fell on hard times following the end of his swimming career. He detailed his struggles on a podcast on the Olympic Channel in which he talked about spending 10 months living in his car after getting divorced and losing his job.

"All those years of success I had with swimming really gave me an inaccurate expectation of the world, and so it was all the much harder to cope with all of the mini-failures I would experience on any given day," he said on the podcast. "Everything kind of started spiraling out of control. I think I became a real lazy, spoiled, entitled person because I didn't have the coping skills."

He then shared how his younger sister, former Olympic swimmer Kalyn Keller, welcomed him into her home after a difficult period to help him get back on his feet.