The 2016 Olympics in Rio have resulted in tales of triumph and laments of loss for all the athletes competing for their countries. One of the most bizarre stories, however, has very little to do with athletics. Famed swimmer Ryan Lochte was reportedly robbed at gunpoint last weekend along with a few of his teammates. The robbers allegedly took Lochte's money, but left his cell phone and Olympic credentials. Now, Lochte's story seems to be unraveling, and it just keeps getting weirder.
Ryan Lochte's original account of the robbery was a narrative of badassery, heroism, and magnanimous acceptance. His first story included an assertion that he said "Whatever" to an armed gunman who demanded that he get on the ground after forcing himself and his friends out of their taxi. It was a scary piece of news coming out of an event that is meant to be an international celebration of all things athletic, and Lochte understandably received a lot of attention from press and well-wishers in the wake of his scare.
Then, things started to get strange. Ryan Lochte changed his original story to omit the gun when he chatted yesterday with NBC's Matt Lauer after news started trickling in that authorities hadn't been able to locate the taxi driver who would have been a key witness to the crime. Even worse, the swimmers were caught on camera after the alleged robbery seemingly still with their wallets on them.
Brazilian officials considered their story more than a little bit fishy as more and more details didn't seem the match their stories. A judge made the decision that Ryan Lochte and the other swimmers were to stay in Brazil until the matter could be settled. A warrant was even issued for his passport to prevent him from returning to the United States. The warrant was not issued until after Lochte had already made it out of Brazil, but two of his fellow swimmers did not leave the country before their warrants could be executed. Lochte's teammates Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were actually removed from a plane at the Rio airport before takeoff. Deadline confirms that Brazilian police have come to the conclusion that the robbery report was in fact faked and the athletes had made up the story entirely.
On the one hand, it seems far-fetched that anybody would fabricate a story that could so easily be refuted. Ryan Lochte's story was fairly elaborate and indicated multiple attackers and a driver who could serve as witnesses. On the other hand, if Brazilian officials are proved correct about Lochte's report, the reason may lie in an incident that occurred prior to the alleged robbery. Police have said that the swimmers stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom. When they could not get the door open, they broke it to get inside. An armed security guard stepped in, but it seems that the confrontation ended without violence. The swimmers paid for the damage and left. If Lochte and his teammates theoretically wanted to cover up news of the gas station tiff, they might have considered a false story as a good option. It would be akin to lighting a bigger fire to pull attention from a much smaller fire. Still, it's one possible explanation.
Only time will tell whether the Brazilian authorities will be proven correct about Ryan Lochte's story of the Olympic robbery. Check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you'll be able to catch on the small screen once the Olympics and all the related drama have come to an end.