U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte had a rough time in Rio. He lost his Speedo endorsement. He was hammered by the media for exaggerating his account of how he was robbed, while intoxicated, near a gas station in the host city. And now, he’s been formally charged with filing a false police report by Rio authorities. Not only that, but our own State Department is encouraging Lochte cooperate (via WEX):
Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the department had no specific comment about the case, but did say U.S. citizens are encouraged to comply.
"We've seen those reports as well. Due to privacy considerations, I don't have information to offer," she said.
"I would say, speaking broadly, we do encourage U.S. citizens as always to cooperate with law enforcement," Trudeau added.
Mr. Lochte, don’t do it. Don’t go down there. It’s a false police report charge from a law enforcement authority that isn’t of the best caliber. There’s a discussion about the police surreptitiously engaging in a campaign to murder people of color. It’s absolutely ludicrous, but in Rio—well, there have been more than a few times where police have been caught covering up what appear to be murders in the favelas. Second, I would suspect that Lochte is never going to be heading to Rio again any time soon if ever, so why even partake in this three-ring circus. Rio police are looking to avoid being embarrassed. Maybe if there were a bit more open regarding what information they do have on the alleged incident, then maybe there could be a reason for Mr. Lochte to head down there. As of now, he should stay put.
First, let’s rehash what Larry O’Connor detailed at length over at Hot Air about this fiasco.
The first being that Lochte didn’t lie about getting robbed; he was robbed by armed security guards. There is no evidence that Lochte and his three teammates, Gunnar Bentz, James Fiegen, and Jack Conger, were even near the bathroom. USA Today Sports went into the bathroom where the men allegedly broke a soap dish dispenser and a mirror. They found no evidence of vandalism, though it’s not like this bathroom was some immaculate place to relief one’s self. It was a dump.
There’s also no video evidence that they were even near the bathroom. Oh, and the guards who allegedly committed the robbery, well, we don’t know their names. They haven’t been made available for interviews. Bentz’s account corroborates Lochte’s later account that armed men demanded payment in order for the four men to leave. Again, that’s, uh, armed robbery.
Larry included with eyewitness account and a statement from Bentz that seems to corroborate it. The only vandalism that occurred was Lochte accidentally knocking off a sign on the wall.
Eyewitness Deluz tells USA Today that as he brokered an agreement between the armed robbers security guards — you know, the ones who held these four Americans at gunpoint while shouting Portugese at them until they got their cash — the only damage ever mentioned by the criminal thugs (the robbers, not the swimmers) was a framed, canvas sign that Lochte apparently knocked down off the wall.
Olympic swimmer Gunnar Bentz released a written statement about the incident:
“After attending an event with several swimmers from different nations, I left in a taxicab along with U.S. swimmers Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte around 6 a.m. On the way back to the Olympic Village, we pulled into a convenience store to use the restroom. There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes. There was a locked door out back and I did not witness anyone breaking it open. I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall. I then suggested to everyone that we needed to leave the area and we returned to the taxi.
“Two men, whom I believe to have been security guards, then instructed us to exit the vehicle. No guns were drawn during this exchange, but we did see a gun tucked into one of the guard’s waistband. As Jimmy and Jack were walking away from the vehicle, the first security guard held up a badge to me and drew his handgun. I yelled to them to come back toward us and they complied. Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk.
“Again, I cannot speak to his actions, but Ryan stood up and began to yell at the guards. After Jack and I both tugged at him in an attempt to get him to sit back down, Ryan and the security guards had a heated verbal exchange, but no physical contact was made.”
Swimmer Jack Conger also released a statement:
Early Sunday morning I was with USA swimming teammates celebrating at the French House. Four of us took a taxi back to the Olympic Village, and on the way we pulled into a gas station to use the restroom, but ultimately relieved ourselves outside, for which I apologize. Ryan Lochte removed a poster from a nearby wall, which apparently alerted the gas station employees, leading to our being confronted by two armed security men. Although I cooperated with their requests while there was a heated exchange among others, at one point a weapon was pointed at me. Eventually, a man appeared who was able to translate for us, helping to defuse the situation. We paid some money to compensate them for the torn poster, and returned to the Village in a different taxi.
But, but the bathroom, right? We’ve all seen what happens when the media thinks something happened and channels their inner most biases, in this instance the ugly American abroad, to frame a narrative that’s false. We don’t know the names of the guards, the bathroom wasn’t vandalized, there’s no evidence that they were even near the bathroom, and not all the video evidence has been released. Yet, the bathroom was vandalized and the swimmers made up a story about being armed at gunpoint to cover their tracks. That’s what was disseminated and permeated the psyche of millions of people. It’s not true. Now, Lochte isn’t getting off scot-free. Yes, he probably did act like an idiot—and he did exaggerate the account, but it doesn’t negate the fact that these men were robbed by armed guards whose names we don’t know. Just the lack of evidence alone should have people scratching their heads, demanding more transparency from the Rio police.
“I will take the word of one of our Olympians (yes, even the flakiest of them all, Ryan Lochte) over an inherently corrupt, 3rd world Banana Republic trying to make their disorganized and crime-ridden sports festival look like the poster-child for American bad behavior,” wrote O’Connor.
I couldn’t agree more. Lochte, atone for stretching the truth, continue to do damage control, but don’t fly down to Rio.