'Dancing with the Stars' protesters: Lochte is 'bad person with bad ethics'

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ByRob Hayes via KABC logo
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
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The two men who rushed the stage at "Dancing With the Stars" Monday said they were protesting the decision to include disgraced Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte on the show.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The two men who rushed the stage at "Dancing With the Stars" Monday in protest of Ryan Lochte said in an interview the swimmer embarrassed all Americans by his behavior at the Olympics this summer.

Released from lockup in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday morning, Sam Saotoodeh and Barzeen Soroudi said they were in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics and were embarrassed by Lochte's behavior.

"This is a bad person with bad ethics, bad morality and he should not be rewarded," said Saotoodeh, 59.

The two Orange County men were arrested for misdemeanor trespassing after they got on stage wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts during the live show right after Lochte had finished his foxtrot performance. Security responded quickly and Saotoodeh was tackled to the ground before both men were escorted offstage.

Four or five other people were also part of the protest wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts in the audience and they were escorted out of the studio.

But viewers at home didn't see the protest. Instead they saw a split screen of Lochte's previous dance. Host Tom Bergeron then quickly tossed to a commercial break.

RELATED: Social media reacts to Ryan Lochte DWTS protest

The pair say choosing Lochte to compete on the ABC show sends the wrong message about who should be representing America.

"We don't take what he did lightly," Soroudi said. "He embarrassed Americans on a world stage and this is our form of protest against him."

The 12-time Olympic medalist made headlines last month when he and three of his teammates lied about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio.

Surveillance video showed the four vandalizing a gas station bathroom after a night of drinking and partying.

Sotoodeh also claims the show's security team overreacted and roughed him up.

"This guy runs out, unnecessarily tackles me and hurts me. I have bruises, my back hurts. Then as he was taking me out, he punches me, he kicks me."

But the protesters' effort to discredit Lochte may have backfired.

Bergeron said the protest generated sympathy for Lochte.

"The mood in the room was definitely in Ryan's corner after these guys were escorted out," Bergeron said.