Ryan Lochte issued an “apology” Friday, but if his statement left you wanting a little more, you’re not alone.
The highly decorated United States swimmer forced his way into the limelight during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but for all the wrong reasons.
We still don’t know the entire story, but here’s one side: Lochte and some teammates (probably) got stupid drunk, got into some trouble at a gas station and got involved in a scary situation.
As anyone who’s had one too many drinks can attest, things can get away from you in a situation like that. Sometimes you make bad decisions under the influence and you’re left to pick up the pieces when the sun comes up and the booze wears off. Apparently, that wasn’t going to work for Lochte, who orchestrated a fairly elaborate scheme and lied about what happened that night, initially claiming their taxi was pulled over by police impostors and that they were robbed at gunpoint.
The jig quickly was up, however, as Rio officials fought back. And who could blame them, either, given how much crap — pun intended, I suppose — they’ve dealt with leading up to and during these games. Lochte’s original story obviously tried to take advantage of Rio’s current state.
Clearly seeing he had no options left, Lochte issued a half-assed apology Friday, saying he was sorry for his behavior and “not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics.”
That’s a long way of saying you’re sorry for lying, which, if he did that, would be a lot more commendable.
But he goes on.
“I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.”
Even if that’s 100 percent true, it’s hard to believe, especially when all of this is happening after we all realized much of his story was a bold-faced lie. It looks even worse considering the fact he got the hell out of Rio as fast as he could, seemingly leaving his teammates in the dust, where they eventually were removed from an airplane and put through the Rio ringer. Even if that wasn’t Lochte’s intent, the optics sure are crummy when he’s sitting in the States and his teammates — the guys with him that night — are left to fend for themselves.
But we’re still not done with Lochte’s statement.
“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 …”
We’re not going to sit here and say Olympians, especially grown adults like Lochte, should remain in the athlete village under lock and key for the entire games. But jeez, a lot of those problems he mentions — excuses, perhaps? — are kind of brought by him and his teammates. Not to mention, Rio police accused at least one person in Lochte’s entourage of damaging property at the gas station.
The thing about Lochte, and maybe this is unfair, is that it’s not like he’s the type of guy who’s going to get the benefit of the doubt in this situation. He’s made as much news for what he’s done out of the pool as what he’s done in the water. We’re talking about a guy who trademarked his ridiculous “Jeah” catchphrase, and his E! reality TV show left everyone laughing, but in that borderline uncomfortable “they’re not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you” way.
That a video like this exists doesn’t help his case.
It’s interesting to think about how big this story would be if it was the same events — real, fabricated or imagined — but it happened to a lesser-known athlete who doesn’t have the, um, reputation that Lochte has. It probably wouldn’t be this big of a story, but that’s something Lochte brought upon himself in more ways than one.
Lochte could have come out Friday and said, “Sorry, I screwed up and I’m sorry I lied. More importantly, I’m sorry I dragged my teammates through the mud and left them high and dry.”
That would have been respectable. But instead, his apology fell flat, and knowing everything we know about Locthe, no one should be surprised.
Thumbnail photo via Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports Images