Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice ended any speculation that she had a budding romance with Kobe Bryant, by tweeting Thursday that she and Bryant are just friends. And now, the man who started the speculation has publicly apologized.

Craig Stevens, a former Olympic swimmer for Australia, had said that there was "definitely something going on" between the pair. According to Stevens, Bryant hung around the Australian swim team at parties during the Beijing Olympics and had been flirting with Rice.

In London, Bryant was spotted watching cycling at the velodrome with Rice and her Australian teammates.

But after finding out Bryant was still married, Stevens said he regrets speaking out.

"I have honestly felt sick after what I said, I had no right to make comments with second hand information," Stevens said. "I did not realize [Bryant] was still married. I thought he had been separated, hence why I thought something could be happening. If I could take back what I said I definitely would."

Bryant's wife filed for divorce in December but it has not been finalized, and there is talk of getting back together, as she and the couple's children are in London to watch the Olympics.

If Bryant and Rice had been seeing each other, it would not have been the first presumed romance between an American Olympian and an Australian swimmer. Before the London Games started, Ryan Lochte was seen cozying up to Blair Evans of Australia. In 2008, Rice was linked to Michael Phelps after the two were spotted kissing.

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @RobbieLevin.

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