Ryan Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist and the second ranked American swimming champion behind Michael Phelps, is battling an international PR crisis and criminal charges.
Lochte is accused by Rio de Janeiro authorities of literally crying wolf. The swimmer claims that he and three other swimmers were robbed at gun point by thieves dressed as officers of the law. However, as the Atlantic reports, “Officers in Brazil found security tape of the moment when Lochte and swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and James Feigen stopped at a gas station, and instead of a robbery, they said the three swimmers vandalized a bathroom.”
Given that there is are two versions of the incident and the evidence seems to sway more with the Rio de Janeiro authorities account of the events, many reports have painted Lochte in a negative light. Lochte put the last nail in the coffin so to speak when he confirmed in an interview that he had been drunk the night of the incident and that he “over-exaggerated that story” as the gun was at eye level when he sat down on the pavement.
Lochte has nothing more to gain from fabricating the incident and coming clean has forced him to pay dearly as he lost four sponsors as of August 23, 2016, according to reports from USA Today.
However, despite what seems to overwhelming evidence in support of the Rio de Janeiro authorities, USA Today ran their own investigation and found some facts that might support Lochte’s case and render the incident more “gray area than black and white”. The report said that “…that footage officers claim shows the swimmers vandalizing the bathroom does not in fact show any vandalism.” In addition, a witness in the article also said that because of the language barrier, the swimmers might have believed they were being robbed when officers, guns drawn, demanded they pay for damages, USA Today cited.
The fact is, the video shows some damage to a poster outside the restroom but there has been no video surveillance released “…that (the swimmers) going into or damaging the gas station restroom,” reported USA Today.
At the time of the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics, Lochte and the other three swimmers were back in the United States. However, Rio authorities have been demanding the Lochte return to Brazil to face criminal charges. Given the murkiness of the facts (as murky as the swimming pool water), only time will tell the actual outcome of this event.
Photo Credit: By Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons