Can We Just Be Done With Ryan Lochte?
Ryan Lochte's harrowing story of robbery in Rio appears to be nothing more than a fiction created by a privileged athlete attempting to cover up his own misdoings.
The story has already taken many twists and turns but reports Thursday indicate that he and his teammates celebrated too hard and vandalized a gas station. Instead of owning their mistake — a mistake that came at the expense of others — Lochte may have made up a tale about the incident that painted him as the hero of an armed robbery who said "whatever" to assailants while a gun was pressed against his head.
The Olympian previously claimed he and three U.S. Olympic swim team pals were pulled over and robbed at gunpoint by armed police while returning from a party Sunday morning. He told the story on TV, while teammates joked on Twitter that their Olympic medals were safe.
Wednesday, a judge ordered the passports of Lochte and teammate Jimmy Feigen to be seized until the police could ask more questions. Their story didn't add up. At that point, Lochte had already returned to the United States.
Later that night Brazilian authorities stopped Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, the other two swimmers involved, from boarding a plane bound for the U.S. Afterward, Lochte did an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer and defended his story, though he did change a few key details. After the interview, he took to Twitter to re-tweet people defending his story.
Those details and the rest of the story are fabrications according to Brazilian authorities. Thursday, Lochte and Feigen were indicted on the charges of filing false police reports, a charge punishable by up to six months in prison or a fine, according to O Globo. Authorities say that the two men who approached the swimmers were security guards called to a gas station because of vandalism by the American swimmers. A report from the Associated Press says that one of the two guards had a gun but it remained holstered.
A security guard at the gas station DID use an arm to control the situation, police say. No violence against swimmers tho— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) August 18, 2016
“The only truth they told is that they were drunk,” said Fernando Veloso, chief of the civil police in Rio on Thursday.
Reports now say the swimmers stopped to use the restroom at a gas station but found the door locked. Instead of moving along, they broke down the door and proceeded to urinate outside the gas station despite forcing the locked door to the bathroom open.
“They stopped next to the gas station, and urinated ... right next to the gas station,” the owner of the gas station told O Globo. “We even have images of one of the athlete's butts, as he is pulling up his pants.”
Officer Veloso says two women were with the swimmers - says that might be motive for them to hide facts - they may have other partners— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) August 18, 2016
The swimmers attempted to flee in the waiting cab, but the driver had allegedly been instructed by the security guards to stay put. Reports indicate that the swimmers handed over cash to pay for the damages and then left the scene.
IOC spokesman Mario Andrada, who has given someamazingquotes during the Games, glossed over the entitlement of their actions when he spoke Thursday. "Let's give these kids a break," he said. "Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, it's part of life. Life goes on." His statement may lead many to forget that one of those kids, Lochte, is 32.
Bentz and Conger were released by Rio authorities after they were pulled off the plane but were instructed to stay in Rio to continue discussions. According to the Associated Press, they were the ones who first told the Rio authorities that the story had been fabricated.
The alleged fabrications paint Lochte as the hero, but if the current allegations are true, he appears to be the villain of this story.
UPDATE 8:31pm ET:
ABC is reporting that the swimmers insist their story is true and that the police are lying about "certain aspects" of the case. That conflicts with earlier reports that Bentz and Conger told the police the story was a fabrication.
Additionally, ESPN reports that Lochte and Feigen have not been indicted. Veloso told the outlet that the swimmers may still face charges, but those won't come until after the investigation has been completed. Police have only recommended charges at this point.
Veloso also said, though Brazilian police said otherwise earlier in the day, the security guards did use a gun to control the situation. He also stated that the athletes refused to wait for police to arrive at the scene and offered to pay the equivalent of $51 American dollars to pay for damage to the bathroom door and mirrors.
UPDATE 11:32pm ET:
The USOC and USOC Scott Blackmun have released a statement, saying that Bentz and Conger have had their passports returned and they boarded flights to the United States. Feigen has provided the Brazilian authorities with a revised statement and hopes to have his passport returned soon.
Blackmun continued, "As we understand it, the four athletes... 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."
Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record, but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.