Alright, it’s time to talk about Ryan Lochte

How about those Rio Olympics? Fast swimming, world records, gold medals. Oh and the most important thing, Ryan Lochte getting drunk! Why would we care about any of the incredible athletics when we’ve got a great “scandal” on our hands, am I right?

Rio_night
Rio at night. By source, fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/

For those of you who haven’t heard, this whole story started out with Ryan Lochte and three other members of the US Olympic swim team claiming they were robbed at gun point after a party in Rio. In the following days, it surfaced that the athletes were significantly more intoxicated than initially reported and the men who held them at gunpoint were actually police officers. They had allegedly trashed a gas station bathroom.

Now it’s also come out that the officers may have lied or embellished their report, that one of the athletes was extorted for a large donation before he was allowed to fly back to the United States, and that the gas station may not have been “trashed” at all.

Since the negative press started printing, Lochte has been in a bad place. All of his sponsors have dropped him, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren. He’ll lose millions of dollars in endorsement deals and modeling. Many of these companies dropped him after the negative news came out, even though those reports might not have painted an accurate picture after all. That’s small consolation to a man who’s had his reputation dragged through the mud.

Speedo-brand
The Speedo logo. By source, fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/

Let’s take a step back here and look at what really happened. Ryan Lochte and his teammates certainly were very intoxicated. This is not something that has never happened to an athlete before, especially after the end of a major competition. Hockey players go around for weeks after winning the Stanley Cup trashing hotel rooms, drinking beer out of the cup, and more.

The American team members were also unquestionably someplace they shouldn’t have been. Regardless of the alleged state of the gas station after they left, they should probably not have been that far from the Olympic Villiage. They were held at gunpoint by policemen (who, according tor ecent reports, weren’t even on duty) and made to give them the money in their wallets to pay for the “damages”. That sounds a lot like armed robbery to me, even if their story was emellished.

The bottom line here is, Lochte and his friends did something stupid. They partied a little too hard and were caught in an extremely embarassing and unfavorable situation. However, they don’t deserve what has been done to them. Nobody got hurt. They paid at the scene, and Jimmy Feigen made a large donation (possibly coerced) to charity in Rio. The situation they found themselves should not have occured, but they have all apologized.

All of the moral handwringing going on regarding this story is ridiculous. As for as the attitude of the public and press, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

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