The story Lochte told

Olympic swimmer pays price for his exaggerations

Bailey Ayres, Sports Editor

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte told a harrowing story that overwhelmed the news cycle and other events in Rio for a few days during the summer Olympics.

Shortly thereafter, it became clear that Lochte’s initial account wasn’t exactly accurate.

Some of the facts from the incident at a Brazilian gas station involving Lochte, three teammates and some private security guards remain in dispute.

But this much is clear: Lochte’s “exaggerations” have been costly to him and his teammates.

Lochte has lost sponsors. According to CNN money, four major sponsors have decided to cut ties with him – Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal and Airweave.

His teammates have had to pay fines to the Rio police and have had to face the stress of additional police questioning and media scrutiny.

One question I have for Lochte is this: why did you tell such an exaggerated tale?

In a televised interview on the TODAY show with Billy Bush, Lochte described the incident that occurred after he and teammates had spent the night out on the town:

300 dpi Chris Ware illustration of U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.
Tribune News Service

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns, they told the summers to get down on the ground – they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so I’m not getting down on the ground.

“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up. I was like, ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet – he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”

Since then, Rio police have questioned Lochte’s account and have charged him with filing a false police report.

Rio police representatives told USA Today that Lochte and his teammates vandalized a gas station restroom, breaking a mirror and a soap dispenser.

Lochte told USA Today that he thought the police claim was “absurd.” He said that there was no damage done to the restroom, because it was locked. They could not have gotten in.

During an Aug. 31 appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Lochte attempted to clarify things further.  He said he was held at gunpoint by armed men who demanded they pay for a damaged sign.

Lotche admitted to ripping an advertising sign off a wall. He told USA Today he didn’t know if the armed men’s actions were “robbery or extortion or us just paying up for the poster.”

Details of this incident will continue to emerge. Police are continuing their investigation into the swimmer’s accounts and looking at the security guards’ actions.

In addition, Lochte and his teammates face a hearing before the International Olympic Committee.

The fact that Lochte and his teammates were in a foreign country and there was a language barrier may have added to misinterpretations about what actually happened that night. But lying about it and exaggerating about the situation is not they way to go about it.

We don’t know why Lochte chose to embellish some of the details from that night’s experiences.

It could have been because of embarrassment.

It could have been an attempt to cast himself in a better light.

Whatever the reason, his failure to be completely forthright has cost him and his teammates greatly.

We hope he learned this one valuable lesson: the truth always comes out.