Ryan Lochte

In the past months, most people  in the United States and abroad has become uncomfortably and ashamedly familiar with the name of Ryan Lochte, four-time Olympian, and reigning US swim champion.

There are several new developments which merit attention, the chief of them being Lochte’s ten-month suspension from all competitive swimming (both domestic and international).

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But wait, back up. What went wrong with Ryan Lochte?

In case you’ve missed out on all the excitement, here’s a quick summary of the Rio Olympics, where Ryan Lochte is concerned.

Shockingly, this reigning gold medalist qualified in just one event, as well as the team competition. In that single event, he didn’t place.

As can be expected, this was a huge letdown for the swim league, not to mention Ryan Lochte (although his lack of medals was much compensated by Michael Phelps’s phenomenal run, which marked Phelps as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history).

One fun-filled evening, four notable American swimmers were out for a night on the town (past curfew, may it be added) at a party they were seemingly invited to. And yes, these dieting professional athletes were drinking it up-which is, as common sense suggests, not the most brilliant idea when visiting a foreign country with known security and sanitary issues. But the sky’s the limit, apparently, when you’ve just finished (and lost!) competition.

On the way back to The Village – that is, the athlete’s sleeping quarters – the phantom four stopped by a gas station to ‘use the restroom’.

Stories Gallore

As told by Ryan Lochte, the four were then held at gunpoint by a police officer and each of their wallets were stolen.

As told by officials, and eventually admitted to by Ryan and the others, the American swimmers actually vandalized the gas station and got into an altercation with security guards there.

The officer was merely asking them to pay for the damage, which required them to give him money. A much more likely story. It also makes sense. Why not pull a publicity stunt and receive attention, and at the same time cover up vandalizing crime?

After taking a public pounding, Ryan Lochte came out and deeply apologized for what he did, taking full blame and responsibility, while recognizing his wrongs. He termed the event an ‘over-exaggeration’.

That’s the shortened scoop in less than 300 words, but, as can be imagined, the media grabbed at this like NASA had just discovered extraterrestrial life (again).

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Rio Olympics: Crime, Security, Sanitation

In case you’re unfamiliar with the standings of Rio in the nation community, here’s a quick update:

Crime Rate

No one had to strain themselves to believe the tall tale Ryan Lochte shamelessly told on television, because at least five other Olympian-comprising groups had been robbed at gun/knifepoint over the course of the Olympics – and their stories turned out to actually be verified true. Bullets were even shot at several reporters and journalists while the films were rolling, causing many to be called off the job.

On the night of the opening ceremony, a still-unidentified body was gruesomely shot and stabbed multiple times over and left for officials to discover.

Other just as horrifying events have been recounted by many in attendance. It’s no question that the crime rate was high, even if the four Lochateers did make this stunt up.

Lack of Security

Rio Olympics Lack of Security

That sign pretty much says it all. In the wake of an economic crisis on Rio’s behalf, the salaries of government officials and employees were drastically cut; leaving cops, firefighters, and other public officials to fend for themselves.

Not a good idea when you’ve just invited the whole world to your doorstep. Thankfully and surprisingly, no terror attacks were committed.

Uncleanliness/Sanitation

Rio Government Not Sanitized

Countless dead remains (both humans and animals) were found on the sides of the rivers which were used for competition. Despite the pinky promises made by Rio’s government, they were not sanitized before the events. Needless to say, the competitors and trainers (as well as the international community) were dismayed.

There’s also that little incident of two major high-diving pools turning completely green. Apparently, as it later came out, a chemical was conveniently left out of the pool treatment, which was supposed to fight any fungi growth. Since it wasn’t applied the fungus ‘bloomed’, as it’s termed by pool experts, and created the nasty green color witnessed by all the world who tuned in to see this history-in-the-making failure. While apparently not harmful, I don’t believe any of the divers were in favor of using the pool.

Ryan Lochte
Green pool at Rio Olympics

And last, but not least, the Zika outbreak. Brazil is one of the main locations where this issue is dreadfully centered. 160,000, and counting, Brazilian women have contracted this disease. As many doctors have pointed out, having an international event in an easily spread epidemic-infested country, is not mankind’s greatest idea.

Because of the terrible state Rio is in financially, as well as militarily and culturally, they  were outraged that their country’s name had been trampled over by an opinionated olympian, again (although some wonder why one name added to a long list makes such a significant difference).

Due to this, they’ve taken the matter to international courts and demanded Ryan be suspended for at least some amount of time, which winded up being ten months, while the other less vocal swimmers involved, received four each.

Ryan was also officially banned from competing in the 2017 international competition. He did, however, suggest that he would practice harder than before and come back a better swimmer and a better person.

Ryan Lochte Endorsements

While it is warranted that there be consequences for the uncalled-for actions, many state there were plenty of disadvantages; such as his public image being utterly sabotaged, without suspension. All four of his professional endorsements, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, dropped him, as well.

Lochte said he reached out to his close friend Phelps, who had experienced a similar low point in his life and career several years back. Michael gave him these words of advice, which Ryan stated he plans to keep in mind through this ‘heartbreaking’ incident:

It’s not what you did; it’s what you do now that will shape who you are.

Let’s take a moment to step back and recognize the validity of these words written by Fox Business’s Steve Tobak:

Why did he do it? Maybe he was still drunk. Maybe he was scared. Who knows? I’m sure none of us have ever done anything dumb when we were young, tried to hide what happened and only ended up making things worse. I’m sure none of the fine journalists who called Lochte a disgrace have ever done something they regret.

Now, that’s not to say that the actions of Ryan Lochte at the Rio Olympics should go unpunished, but maybe, just maybe, the media was being too harsh.