By Patrick Barron,
Sports Business Writer
United States swimmer and twelve-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte has been suspended for 10 months for his gas station scandal during the recent Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.. In addition to Lochte’s suspension, he will be banned from the 2017 World Swimming Championship that is scheduled to take place in July and the next one which takes place in 2019. Those involved in the decision were the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming.
Lochte purported a story that he and three other USA swimmers were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station during the Rio Olympics. The already perceived danger of hosting the Olympics in Rio and his statements caused an uproar worldwide. Many had been calling for the cancellation of this year’s games, due to reports that the conditions were unsafe for athletes. Rio officials wanted to prove to the world that it can successfully host a huge international event without any issues, even given Brazil’s recent troubles.
It turned out that Lochte exaggerated some of his comments given in an interview with NBC. Afterwards, he modified several details in his original claim. Brazilian police, already on alert due the nature of the event immediately investigated his claims and concluded that no robbery had taken place, proving Lochte’s claims to be false.
It later became evident that Lochte and his group were at the gas station after partying, and the police claimed that the group vandalized a rest room that caused guards to pull their weapons in self-defense. The group of swimmers had to pay about $50 for their acts. The Brazilian police released a surveillance video from that night, and other swimmers stories’ about the incident matched it.
Authorities went as far as charging Lochte and the group with falsely reporting a crime. Lochte managed to leave the country before authorities found him, but the other swimmers were not as lucky. After a $10,800 donation, their charges were not brought up and they went back to United States.
After word got out about his fabrications and video evidence was released that suggested that some of his tales were false, Lochte changed his story. But the damage was already done, and the other swimmers denied his story. They will face punishment too, but not at the length of Lochte’s suspension.
Hopefully, the joint decision can appease those who felt offended by his fabrications and put the end to an embarrassing chapter for the United States Olympic Committee. While Ryan Lochte has acknowledged that he over-exaggerated his story, he learns a powerful lesson that the misuse of words can result in a terrible effect.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 13th print edition.
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