USOC Apologizes to Brazil for Ryan Lochte Scandal, Then Lochte Apologizes for Himself, Sort of
Posted on: August 19, 2016, 09:01h.
Last updated on: October 12, 2016, 08:38h.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) tried to give some clarity to the Ryan Lochte alleged crime saga in Brazil today. And the gold medalist himself finally issued an acknowledgment of regret this morning, albeit with more caveats than Jim Comey at an FBI hearing.
“We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence,” the USOC said in a statement. “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.”
Lochte also issued an apology, with clauses, this morning.
“I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend, for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning,” Lochte said. “It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country, with a language barrier, and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible.”
After a night of partying, drinking, and admittedly being with “women,” Lochte allegedly aggrandized, at the very least, a tale of being robbed at gunpoint with three other Team USA Olympic swimmers.
Lochte said that both himself and teammates Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz, and Jimmy Feigen were the victims of a crime. Gas station surveillance video, reportedly with some missing segments, backed up at least portions of the swimmers’ stories, but left many questions as well.
But Brazil police produced evidence that Lochte’s account was riddled with half-truths and non-truths.
From video surveillance, it appeared the four swimmers stopped at a gas station between 5 and 6 am, where one vandalized a bathroom, most likely breaking a mirror. Station security guards stopped the swimmers after that, and brandished weapons at the intoxicated men when they failed to comply and tried to take off.
After giving the guards the equivalent of about $53 for the damages, the four eventually departed.
Home Sweet Home
After being pulled off a plane earlier in the week, Conger and Bentz are now back in the US. The two, who never previously said they were robbed, provided testimony to police that backed the video evidence.
Lochte had previously traveled back to the States soon after the incident.
Feigen, on the other hand, reportedly did first lie about the robbery. He’s on his way home today, but only after paying Rio de Janeiro a $10,800 fine.
In Brazil, it’s common to avoid criminal prosecution for minor offenses by offering a sum of money. “We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States,” the USOC explained.
The case against the three seems to have reached a conclusion, but charges could still be brought against Lochte. Falsifying reports or providing misleading statements carry prison sentences of up to six months in Brazil. That being said, it’s pretty universally agreed that nothing would make authorities extradited the Olympic champion back to the scene of the “crime” for prosecution.
Meanwhile, Back at the Olympics…
Back in Rio, it was another history-making night for Jamaican legend Usain Bolt.
For the third consecutive Summer Games, the 29-year-old is the gold medal winner in both the 100m and 200m. Tonight he goes for the elusive “triple-triple,” when he’ll run the 4x100m relay in hopes of also winning that race for the third straight time at the Olympics.
Of course, bettors in Nevada who put money on Bolt didn’t net much. Bovada listed Bolt at -225 in the 100m and a whopping -500 in the 200m.
Tonight, the Jamaican team is the favorite to win with a line of -400. USA is next at +300.
The women’s 4x100m relay will be perhaps even more exciting, as they too go up against the Jamaican powerhouse. Jamaica is at -250 to the US at +175. The United States women won the gold at the 2012 Olympics.
What the Future May Hold
One of the biggest criticisms of the Lochte incident has been how much it has distracted from the significant accomplishments of other athletes. As Lochte himself said at the end of his lengthy Twitter apology:
“. . . I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes.”
For Lochte himself, his endorsement status is currently in limbo, as brands no doubt assess the fallout. But with major names like Speedo, Ralph Lauren for Polo, and Mutual of Omaha standing behind him as pre-Olympics sponsors, this drunken night out could ultimately amount to the biggest “whoops” of his career.
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