Arena: Lochte, a Liar?
12-time medalist Ryan Lochte has possibly tarnished his career with a recent scandal in Rio. The illustrious U.S. swimmer became the center of controversy when Brazilian investigators found out that he fabricated a story about robbery during the Olympics. Last sunday, Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers were involved in an altercation at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro on their way back from a party outside of the athletes village. Drunk and disoriented, the swimmers broke a bathroom door at the gas station and caused havoc for the attendant. The athletes were confronted by security officers and in return, they offered the gas station employees money to pay for the damages. According to an employee, he said that the Lochte continued to be belligerent, which caused a security officer to show his gun, but no excesses force was used. Lochte's side of the story? He stated that him and his teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigenwere were riding home from a party when they were pulled over by men disguised as cops and were robbed. Lochte orchestrated the lie and was the face of the robbery story, sating that one of the men put a gun to his forehead and took their money. Countless U.S. and international athletes showed their relief for the heroic men that escaped this potential tragedy, while praising them for their wonderful performance in the games. The turnin g point of the story was the inconsistency in the swimmers' stories and the apparent video footage that captured it all. If they were actually robbed, then why did Lochte and the swimmers return to the Olympic village with their phones and watches? No robber would leave those valuables behind. Not only for the materialistic aspect of it, but the phone would be a resource for them to call and get help. No criminal would allow their victim that opportunity and leave room to be get caught in the act. The story did not add up and the Brazilian officials were determined to rid Rio of a bad reputation.
It was not just about one simple lie, but the fact that Rio had been portrayed as this horrible area with a high crime rate and corrupt police officers. The whole reason why they hosted the Olympics in the first place was to boost tourism and represent their country with pride. Perhaps the reason Lochte thought he might get away with it is because Brazil had been tainted by a bad stigma so his story would seem reasonable. Once the evidence came out, Lochte quickly backtracked and thus, one of the biggest scandals in Olympic history began to make headlines in every national newspaper. In a recent interview with NBC news, he claimed responsibility for his actions. "I over-exxagerated that story and if I had never done that we wouldn't be in this mess, Lochte said. It all came down to one night of poor decision making and he spoke openly about it. He explained that he was not in the right state of mind: "I was coming from the France house, I was highly intoxicated, and I made immature accusations. If I had not done that, none of this would have happened." Que the Lochte apology party for the next two to three weeks. Press release: check. Instagram apology post: check. Interview asking for forgiveness: check. Thanking Rio for hosting the Olympics and acting like you did not almost tarnish their reputation: check.
The International Olympic Committee has set up a disciplinary commission to investigate if the swimmers will face any punishment. But most people are wondering how it will affect his career and reputation as an Olympic athlete. Second to Michael Phelps in the swimming arena, he has had an extremely successful career and enjoyed the ride almost drama-free until this moment. Some of his biggest sponsors are Speedo and Ralph Lauren. It is not clear whether they will continue to support him as Speedo has said that they will not comment on legal issues that are are still pending, while Ralph Lauren has not released anything. He will most likely lose millions in endorsements and definitely cut his earning potential. He is being branded as an embarrassment to the U.S. and is being criticized by many television stars. Lochte might have the lost the respect of his fellow teammates who were "thankful" that he made it out okay after a traumatic robbery. But, let's not forget that fellow swim champ Michael Phelps had his fair share of bad publicity when he was caught with drugs. He bounced back with a hard worth ethic and exceptional performance in the games this year. The difference is that Phelps had time to recover from the scandal and came back even stronger as a family man and an athlete. This could be the final debut for Lochte who is approaching the end of his Olympic journey at age 32. While Phelps is leaving behind his Olympic career as a legend, Lochte might have ruined his reputation forever in the world of sports.