First Ryan Lochte said he and his Olympic teammates had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Then Rio police said the robbery never happened and that the U.S. swimmers had actually vandalized a gas station. Then Lochte allegedly said surveillance video had been edited to hide the robbery.
Lochte sounds like a kid scrambling after his mother caught him in a lie—and that might not be far from the truth. The story of Lochte’s alleged robbery first emerged on Sunday, when his mother, Ileana, told media that her son had been held up at gunpoint.
“I think they’re all shaken up. There were a few of them,” Ileana Lochte told USA Today on Sunday of the men who allegedly held up her son and his teammates. “They just took their wallets and basically that was it.”
Lochte’s mother’s account emerged on Sunday morning, before he confirmed the robbery, setting off a torrent of conflicting reports and investigations by local and international bodies. (He and his teammates didn’t report the robbery to police at first because “because we were afraid we’d get in trouble,” he told USA Today.)
Now local law enforcement has indicted Lochte and teammate James Feigen, both of whom have left Brazil, for falsely reporting a crime. And the International Olympic Committee and the FBI are investigating.
It’s become a high-profile international incident, and it began—by all accounts—when Ileana Lochte repeated her son’s story to the press.
Maybe he should have got his story straight before telling his mom. But it’s certainly not the first time they’ve offered differing accounts of the swimmer’s Olympic activities. In 2012, Ileana Lochte told reporters her son was making the most of the bachelor life.
“He goes out on one-night stands” she told Today.com in an August 2012 interview. “He’s not able to give fully to a relationship because he’s always on the go.”
Way to honestly evaluate your emotional availability with respect to your career goals, Ryan! But the Olympian was quick to correct his mother.
“What she meant is that I do go out on dates,” Lochte told Us Weekly later that week. “But it’s not that thing that everyone is talking about, because that’s not me. I’ve never done that and never have been like that, so I don’t want people to think that about me.”(Ileana Lochte later clarified that she meant her son went on nice dates, not the sex thing.)
The two have also shared their polite differences on Ryan’s 2012 dental fashion, a flashy, American flag-patterned grill that sparked some criticism of cultural appropriation from hip-hop culture. Mom cast some gentle shade on the mouthwear this month while defending her son’s latest trademark: his dyed-gray hair.
“He always does something. It’s better than the grills, OK,” she told Good Morning America of Ryan’s hair. “I’ve gotten used to everything that he possibly could do and so this is an OK thing.”
Maybe she spoke too soon.