Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte may have had it with Rio after lying to officials about his drunken escapades in a gas station, but Rio hasn’t had it with Ryan Lochte. The gold medalist has been charged with making a false report over a robbery, and will be summoned back to Brazil to answer for it, Clemente Braune, a commissioner with the city’s Special Tourist Police, said Thursday.
On Aug. 14, Lochte claimed he and three other swimmers were victims of an armed robbery at a gas station. Lochte, who had been at a party drinking until early that morning, told officials — and his mom — that he had been forced off the road by armed robbers, one of whom held a gun to his head. Lochte said the swimmers were relieved of $400.
That didn’t sound right to Brazilian officials. The three men were left with their wallets and cellphones intact, uncommon in a city where street crimes have been on the rise. Police quickly reviewed video footage of the gas station where Lochte and teammates James Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger had vandalized a bathroom door and urinated at the station, which prompted security guards to demand “compensation.” The men handed over some cash, but then gave false statements to police about what had happened. Questions mounted in the following days, and Lochte and his teammates admitted to both overdoing the story, and omitting other details to investigators.
“I over-exaggerated that story,” the 12-time Olympic medalist told NBC’s TODAY show after posting an apology online. The story made huge headlines in Rio and around the world, and Brazilians, who’d been criticized mightily by the foreign press for their country’s lack of preparedness for the Olympic games, got angry. That anger extended to Keyla Blanc de Cnop, the judge in a special magistrate court established for large sporting events who saw footage of Lochte and teammates arriving at the Athlete’s Village on Sunday morning after the alleged incident with phones in hand and looking as if nothing had happened.
“It was perceived that the supposed victims arrived with their physical and psychological integrity unshaken, even making jokes with each other,” the Folha de Sao Paulo reported the judge as saying last week. Other Brazilians took to social media to protest Lochte’s ugly American portrayal of Brazil as a lawless country.
Lochte, who swam in two events at the Rio games and won gold as part of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, left Rio for the U.S. in the midst of the scandal and officials there said that they had no way to force him to return, and that the legal process would continue without him if he declines to do so. Brazilian authorities pulled Bentz and Conger off their plane back to the States last week to interview them about the incident, before letting them fly home. And Feigen, who also cooperated, was allowed to leave with his passport after donating $11,000 to a local sports charity.