THE OLYMPIC SPORT OF LYING
Even if the Summer Olympics have ended, the drama has not.
November 8, 2016
This August of 2016 started the Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, which fueled the passion and competitive spirit of over 200 countries in the world. The United States had much to celebrate, with Simone Biles of women’s gymnastics winning four gold medals, Michael Phelps of men’s swimming winning five gold medals, and even a Suncoast graduate, Tony McQuay, bringing home gold for track and field. However, with celebration comes drinking, and four intoxicated American swimmers got themselves into a mess.
Ryan Lochte and three other swimmers were allegedly caught in a gas station bathroom by Brazilian security guards after vandalizing a sign, mirror, and soap dispenser. Lochte later told Billy Bush on the Today Show that Rio police pointed a gun to his head and they were robbed of their wallets. However, the mirror and soap dispenser were both unbroken, and the swimmers were blatantly showing their “stolen” wallets in an airport.
Lochte himself admitted to Matt Lauer that the stolen wallets and the gun being pointed at his head were exaggerations. And after countless interviews with Lochte and many reports, this is as close to the truth as we have: Rio security guards caught the four swimmers just as Lochte had pulled off a sign from the bathroom wall. Security guards asked them to pay up and “pointed a gun in [their] general direction,” said Lochte in an interview with Matt Lauer. The swimmers gave the police around $50 for damages and went about their night.
The day after Lochte’s encounter with the guards, he filed a police report for the fake robbery and told Billy Bush he had been robbed, which started the firestorm. On the other hand, the Brazilian security guards should be held accountable as well. To draw a gun when no one’s life is being threatened is extremely uncalled for, and the security guards themselves even inflated the damages done to the bathroom. According to USA Today, the soap dispenser and mirror which were “broken” by the swimmers were completely intact when the reporters went to check out the scene.
All of this chaos could have been avoided if everybody told the truth, but Lochte wanted to exaggerate how tough he was during times of danger, and the guards wanted to exaggerate how terribly the Americans had treated them. All the same, a huge section of the blame should go to the media. In the beginning of the story, everyone felt sympathetic for the American swimmers who had been robbed and threatened. But as new information unfolded, Lochte immediately began to receive backlash from the public, because he had used his “white privilege” to make a developing country look terrible. Did the media ever doubt the police after that? Some articles pointed out that the police have not released all the footage that night, and they are keeping most information confidential. These are serious reasons to question the security guards’ story, too. In the end, one should always check their facts before spreading rumors.