Bros will be bros.
There’s still some confusion over what exactly happened at a gas station in Brazil the night of August 14, when four Olympic swimmers said they were robbed at gunpoint. But one thing is certain: twelve-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and his teammates seriously messed up, embarrassing themselves and their home country in the process – not to mention insulting their host country.
The swimmers alleged that they were robbed at gunpoint the night before they were due to head home from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It seems, however, that what is likely to have actually happened was that the men drunkenly trashed a gas station bathroom, vandalized property, and then urinated outside. That led to a confrontation with armed security guards. The manager of the gas station demanded they pay for the damage, which they did. This would explain the video surveillance footage of the swimmers handing over cash to people with guns.
The morning after the incident, Brazilian authorities called for the swimmers to remain in the country for questioning. Ryan Lochte had already gone back to the US by that point, but Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen were detained. Bentz and Conger returned to the US yesterday, while Feigen remained in Brazil with his passport confiscated.
Bentz and Conger told police that Lochte made up the mugging story to cover up the group’s bad behavior; Brazilian police are recommending that Lochte and Feigen be charged with falsely reporting a crime and lying to authorities. Feigen’s lawyer said this morning that Feigen has made a deal to donate money to charity so that Brazilian authorities will allow him to return home.
So, how have Olympic and US officials responded to the incident?
Initially, a spokesperson for Rio 2016 defended the swimmers. “Let’s give these kids a break,” said Mario Andrada. “Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.”
However, the US Olympic Committee later issued an apology. “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.”
Image via Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com.
Comment: Do you think Ryan Lochte and his teammates are being let off the hook more easily because they are white and privileged?