Politics & Business

Colorado Springs Olympian Keller was charged within the U.S. Capitol – coloradopolitics.com

The goal of the Olympic Movement is to help build a "peaceful and better world" through a spirit of "friendship, solidarity and fair play". Such ideals, however, seem lost in the tall, bearded man wearing a Team USA jacket when he towers over a crowd of protesters and police officers in a video of a deadly riot in the US Capitol.

That signature jacket and size made the job easier for prosecutors trying to identify and accuse the man – the former U.S. Olympic swimmer and Colorado Springs-based Klete Keller – of violent entry and disorderly behavior on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

The warrant filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC on Wednesday comes because federal agencies are continuing a campaign to identify and indict those who participated in the January 6 riot that killed five people, including a Capitol Police officer, and a historic second impeachment Wednesday for President Donald Trump, widely held responsible for starting the flames.

The 38-year-old Keller was picked out as the man in the video by sports news agency SwimSwam earlier this week after being recognized by colleagues and former coaches who saw a video of the clash at the Capitol. The federal prosecutor turned to SwimSwam's report and the same footage captured by the conservative political news agency Townhall Media to represent their case.

"Colorado state records and public information lists KELLER as 6 feet and 6 inches tall. PERSON 1 appears to be one of the tallest people in the video depicting people in the rotunda," it said in the complaint. "Open source research has also shown that KELLER is a three-time Olympic athlete and Olympic gold medalist and that PERSON 1 appears to be wearing a jacket from the US Olympic team in the video showing him in the rotunda."

The Gazette was unable to confirm whether Keller had been taken into custody until Wednesday evening. Efforts to reach Keller this week have been unsuccessful.

In a letter to Team USA members before Keller's arrest warrant was issued, Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said the organization "strongly condemned" the "horrific acts" at the Capitol.

"You don't represent the values ​​of the United States or Team USA," said Hirshland. “At home and around the world, Team USA athletes have a very high standard as they represent our country on the field and off. What happened in Washington, DC, was one case where that standard was clearly not met. "

Originally from Nevada, Keller participated in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics and brought home two gold medals as a teammate of Michael Phelps. His post-Olympic career took a dark turn, though, through divorce and unemployment, and a low point where the multiple medalist lived in his car, according to NBC Sports.

After settling in the Quellen, Keller found a job as an independent broker with commercial real estate firms Hoff and Leigh in 2018. On Tuesday, the agency announced that he had left the company with immediate effect.

"Hoff & Leigh supports the right to freedom of expression and lawful protest, but we cannot tolerate illegal activities," the company said in a statement. “We are proud of our deeply rooted core values ​​of family, loyalty, community and responsibility. We continue to stand by these values. "

Under the U.S. Swimming Code of Conduct, athletes convicted of certain crimes would violate the national governing body and would be subject to review and decision. Since Keller is no longer actively competitive, such a process would not be used.

USOPC does not have the authority to strip athlete medals issued by the International Olympic Committee. There is no precedent for asking an Olympian to return a medal for misdeeds committed outside of competition.

Three-time swimming gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar said she understands the struggles her companions face as they try to find their place in a world beyond the rings. But that's not an excuse.

"Klete Keller believed that his 'Olympic' status and equipment would entitle him to respect if he participated in riot and insurrection," Hogshead-Makar wrote in a public Facebook post on Wednesday. "On the contrary … Olympians are held to a higher standard, and being an Olympian increases bad behavior. Participation in an uprising to overthrow democracy in the U.S. Capitol is qualified. "

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