Ryan Lochte just played all of us.
Earlier this week, the U.S Olympic swimmer and three of his teammates told the world they were robbed at gunpoint while coming home to the Olympic village after a night of partying in Rio de Janeiro.
But on Thursday, Brazilian authorities determined that was a lie, and in fact found out the group vandalized a nearby gas station. And in an ironic twist, the only gun that appeared in the incident belonged to the gas station’s security guard–who only brandished his weapon after the vandalism occured.
As Black athletes continue to slay in Rio, essentially making America look great again against the backdrop of a city thriving with African culture, Lochte and his cohorts used White male privilege to escape a drunken night of mayhem and bad frat boy decisions.
Here’s a rundown if you’re lost. Lochte and three teammates – Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger – said that they were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday morning. According to the quartet, men posing as police officers pulled over the group’s taxi and raised a gun to Lochte’s head, demanding money.
But then things got weird when Lochte and his teammates switched their stories, adding and subtracting intricate details. Lochte at one point said the taxi made a pit stop at a gas station somewhere in the timeline of the robbery.
Well, said gas station has the receipts. Video surveillance shows one of the swimmers urinating near the building; he is then confronted by gas station attendants. Reports say the men threw money at the gas station owner after they vandalized the bathroom. Someone at the gas station called police, but by the time they arrived the men were gone.
As Brazil continues to grapple with its own set of social and economic policies, did these men think it imperative to play into the “minority communities are dangerous” stereotype? It’s about the same level of ignorance that some White accusers use who frame their attacker as a “brown” person – before we find out that said attacker never existed. Wait, that’s exactly what they did…
Lochte is currently back in the States, even though a Brazilian judge ordered him to surrender his passport and stay in the country, according to The New York Times. Apparently, the United States Olympic Committee would not give up the swimmers’ locations. Then, Bentz and Gunnar were pulled off their plane on Wednesday night with orders to remain in the country as the investigation unfolded.
In an interview with The New York Times, Brian Winters, vice president for policy at Americas Society and Council of the Americas, wasn’t having it: “This incident has caused so much damage to Rio’s brand abroad that I think Brazilians deserve a clear, consistent account of what happened.”
He said the whole mess “has tapped into one of Brazilians’ biggest pet peeves — gringos who treat their country like a third-rate spring break destination where you can lie to the cops and get away with it.”
What’s even more frustrating is how Mario Andrada, the head of the IOC, is framing this incident:
“I do not regret having apologized. No apologies from him or other athletes are needed. We have to understand that these kids came here to have fun. Let’s give these kids a break. Sometimes you make decisions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.”
Wow. No apology needed? Lochte is a grown man. He is 32, far from a kid.
But we already know the deal. Lochte has the complexion for the protection. If a brown or Black athlete committed this flub, we’d be watching and reading a completely different story.