Lochte the Liar

by Stephon Thomas

 

Fifty four gold medals, twenty two silver medals, and fourteen bronze medals- the impressive feats of U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Steven Lochte. Any type of person would look up to an athlete of this caliber.  Unless they fabricate a robbery story. On the morning of August 14th, 2016, Lochte and fellow Olympic swimming teammate Jimmy Feigen claimed that they and teammates Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were robbed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the 2016 Summer Olympics after men allegedly forced them out of their taxi at gunpoint early in the morning.

 

The following day Lochte, who was in an interview with Billy Bush on the Today Show, claimed that the men who stopped their taxi had a police badge. The other swimmers also claimed that they were removed from the taxi by armed security men, who commanded them at gunpoint to sit on the sidewalk, and demanded payment for alleged vandalism. It was after surveillance video emerged that confirmed the swimmers' previous stories that Lochte stated, in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC saying that he had been drunk and that he "over-exaggerated that story" as a gun was pointed in his direction but at eye level when he sat on the sidewalk. Rio Police Chief Veloso then later confirmed security officers at the gas station did use guns to control the situation. Two days following this entire scandal, on August sixteenth, after Lochte had flown home, Conger and Bentz were taken off their plane for questioning as they were preparing to leave Rio.

 

A judge in Brazil also issued a search warrant for Lochte and Feigen; Feigen afterwards contacted the authorities, and said he would make a public statement when the whole situation was settled. Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro concluded that the athletes were not robbed, but instead had been involved in an incident at a gas station in Barra da Tijuca, west of the city; according to the owner and other sources they broke a soap dispenser in the bathroom, damaged a door, tore down a sign and urinated around the premises. They also claimed that the swimmers had already paid in cash one hundred reais (thirty one dollars) and twenty dollars in U.S. currency as compensation for objects from the bathroom which were damaged, such as a soap holder and a mirror.

 

It was because of this fabricated story that Speedo and Ralph Lauren ended their endorsement deals with Lochte. To make matters worse, because he was charged with providing a false claim of robbery during the Olympic games, if convicted he could be up jailed up to eighteen months. On August 30th, 2016, when appearing on Good Morning America, he said that he was unsure if he would claim the incident as a robbery saying "I don't know if I would consider it as a robbery, or extortion, or us just paying up for the poster being ripped." To top it all off, on September eighth, it was announced that Lochte had been suspended ten months from swimming and will have to miss the 2017 national and world swimming championships. His career from here on out is sink or swim.
 

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