Before we go any further, let’s be clear – no one seems to know exactly what happened and no one involved seems to completely agree about what happened so we have to take everything with a grain of salt. One thing is certain, though – a potentially terrible situation was exaggerated and now we are dealing with the fallout.
While competing at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, swimmers, Ryan Lochte, James Feigan, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz had some sort of altercation with security guards at a gas station after a night of drinking.
The reason why we all know about it is that Lochte originally claimed that their taxi was pulled over by men pretending to be police officers who then robbed the teammates at gunpoint. Almost immediately, authorities voiced their concern over the account and the investigation intensified to the point that the swimmers’ passports were revoked (Lochte had already returned to the United States, however).
After reviewing surveillance videos, it was determined that the foursome had fought with a security guard at a gas station and a new statement has been released by the United States Olympic Committee in light of the revelation. It states:
“As we understand it, the four athletes (Bentz, Conger, Feigen and Ryan Lochte) left France House early in the morning of August 14 in a taxi headed to the Olympic Village. They stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, where one of the athletes committed an act of vandalism. An argument ensued between the athletes and two armed gas station security staff, who displayed their weapons, ordered the athletes from their vehicle and demanded the athletes provide a monetary payment. Once the security officials received money from the athletes, the athletes were allowed to leave.
The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members. We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States.
On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence.”
With no way to deny the fact that the original allegations are not quite true, Lochte has released a statement of his own that reads:
“I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend – for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics. I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.
It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country – with a language barrier – and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that I am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event. I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.
I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio ’16 Host Committee, and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that these Olympic Games provided a lifetime of great new memories. There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes.”
The situation really did distract from everything that happened at the Olympics during that time since any victories in the events were overshadowed by stories about the American swimmers.
Why would an athlete as high profile as Ryan Lochte lie about something like this on such a global scale? Do you consider it a deliberate lie or did he get carried away with relaying the story afterward? Either way, it’s a shame that this story blew up the way that it did. It hurt the Games, the other athletes, and, ultimately, the reputations of the four swimmers involved.