Jumping the gun on what really happened to Olympian Ryan Lochte

I’ve been watching CNN’s coverage of the ongoing, and confusing, tale of Ryan Lochte and his fellow Olympians who may, or may not, have been robbed in Brazil.

As you know, Lochte made it back to the states, but several of his teammates had their passports seized by the Brazilian authorities, and are now answering increasingly tough questions about what happened.

Lochte and company say they were held up by Brazilian cops.

Brazil says Lochte and his colleagues were drunk and vandalized a gas station.

Even though we’re still trying to figure out what happened, that didn’t stop USA Today columnist, and CNN commentator, Christine Brennan from calling for Lochte to be banned from sports for life.

Even though we have no idea what actually happened.

A few points:

1. Why lie? Why would Lochte and his colleagues make up a story about being robbed? If it didn’t happen, in some manner, it doesn’t really make sense that they’d lie about. What happened that would make them tell this story at all?

2. The video. I watched the video on CNN, and at one point, you see Lochte and his teammates put their hands in the air and sit down — clearly someone had them against their will. That does appear to back up some of Lochte’s story.


Surveillance video shows Ryan Lochte and fellow Olympians forced to sit down with their hands up.

3. Is it possible that both stories are true? That Lochte and company did vandalize the gas station, and that the gas station security guard then pulled a gun on them and demanded a pay off? Yes.

And if the latter happened, that would be consistent with Lochte’s story that he and his friends were held up by a cop.


AP on Lochte

So another aspect of Lochte’s story is confirmed. This doesn’t prove he told the entire truth, but it does suggest that a rush to judgment is premature.

Finally, the Brazilian police held a press conference today, and it was an utter disaster. The head of the police for the region was all over the place. First he said there was no evidence that Lochte and the other swimmers were “victims of violence,” including claiming they weren’t coerced to do anything, then he said, yeah, I guess a gun was involved. He also eventually said it’s possible someone extorted money from them at gunpoint.

Which was the entire point the Olympians were making from the beginning.

We don’t know yet what happened. And it’s irresponsible for anyone to claim that Lochte should be banned for life until we know what happened. It’s such an obvious point — get all the facts before you convict someone. But it’s one that’s often missed in this quick-to-judgment culture we live in.

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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25 Responses to “Jumping the gun on what really happened to Olympian Ryan Lochte”

  1. Faye49 says:

    They showed video of the swimmer(s) damaging the bathroom? Would it be possible to link it? I’m not being snarky–it seems here we see one piece, then another and it is hard to tell what happened. I am very interested in anything that happened in this time frame.
    Regarding the sponsors leaving, that doesn’t surprise me at all and I expected it. I have probably come across as much more supportive of Ryan than I meant to be. Getting too drunk is what started this whole mess. Had the 4 idiots not done that we wouldn’t be here. Peace.

  2. SomeYankInRio says:

    I guess they show different videos here in Brasil -seriously. Speedo made the right call. There are so many deserving athletes who behave honorably to support

  3. SomeYankInRio says:

    It’s more amazing to see the different ways each countries (language) press reports the story. It’s almost as if two different things happened. Yes he’s a douche but that’s not the point. Yes he lied to his mother but that’s not the point. the point is he picked what he thought would be a believable lie and is sticking with it. This is the same as the fake gay bashing that make it harder for real victims; it’s the same as accusing the big black man when you did it yourself. Character is everything.

  4. moder ateher says:

    All you knuckleheads on this site who have been so quick to condemn these white swimmers would be having a fuc*in fit if the same thing were happening to black athletes. The hypocrisy runs deep here in the interweb tubes.

  5. Maribel Hernandez-Green says:

    White privilege

  6. Faye49 says:


    Of the videos available, including footage from a camera trained on the restroom doors, a review by USA TODAY Sports does not show the swimmers going near the bathrooms. They are not seen entering or coming out of them on those recordings.

    Deluz said it never came up that night: In the negotiations he brokered between the swimmers and the guards, the only damage mentioned was the sign Lochte tore down.

  7. SomeYankInRio says:

    and you know this why?

  8. SomeYankInRio says:

    Sure hope that now that the games are ending the sponsorship dollars go to those who truly deserve them.

  9. quax says:

    Looks like a bit of frontier justice was handed down, but not a robbery.

  10. Faye49 says:

    The ‘authorities’ lied over and over. The swimmers were never in the bathroom and it was NOT damaged. They did urinate in an alley and a sign was torn off an exterior wall. Period.

  11. mf_roe says:

    Drunks pissing on walls, “rent a cop”s abusing their ability to carry guns, officials spinning their asses off to deflect attempts to get a factual accounting (which would document the failures of the politically powerful). None of them deserve to be believed. We will get the facts soon enough.

  12. marknc says:

    That is standard Republican behavior.

    On a more massive scale: Something happened in Benghazi so there must have been a stand down order or our military (with almost no resources available) would have stopped it (Democratic President). By contrast: On 9/11 planes hit the two trade towers in New York City 20 minutes apart and the Pentagon in Washington, DC 40 minutes after that. With almost unlimited resources available to intercept at least the last two jets nothing was done to stop them – but it’s OK, they did their best (Republican President) and we should rally behind his leadership.

  13. teddy partridge says:

    All flights, taken and attempted, were as previously scheduled. No one was fleeing.

  14. Niblet58 says:

    They were “shaken down” to pay for the damage they did to the store. You know damned well they would have taken off ASAP and left the store to pay for the damage they did. Good luck trying to get the ADULTS to pay for what they did after they took off.

  15. Niblet58 says:

    From another website:
    Lochte and several teammates went out partying. When they returned to the Olympic Village and their quarters at 6 AM Lochte told authorities they’d been in a taxi, which was stopped by what they thought was police, except the cop robbed them at gunpoint. They were able to protect their IDs, but had to turn their money over. An investigation was begun, but the investigating judge (Brazil has a prosecutorial-investigative system, so some of their judges are investigators) felt the initial surveillance video of them returning to the Olympic Village (taken at the security checkpoint) belied that they’d been robbed at gunpoint. Despite being told not to leave Brazil, Lochte quickly bugged out and supposedly returned the US, but his whereabouts are currently unknown. This resulted in a judicial hold on their travel. Two of his teammates tried to fly home last night, their passports had been flagged because of the hold, and they were taken off their plane by authorities. The fourth teammate did not try to leave and was cooperating. Today, once surveillance footage from the gas station/convenience store came to light it was discovered that Lochte trashed the place, including urinating everywhere, and then had to be stopped from leaving by armed security.

  16. teddy partridge says:

    It’s outrageous to see Americans with no firsthand knowledge of what happened immediately credit the Rio police reports, when these same people would never believe American police reports of incidents, and don’t. I’m astonished that folks are willing to say, “Well, Lochte’s a douche, so I don’t believe him, I credit the police reports”. The double standard amaze.

  17. LesbianTippingHabits says:

    Christine Brennan is also a cheap tipper. Thank you.

  18. douglas01 says:

    I’ve been watching the news on this one and so for it seems to me that the swimmers were acting like drunken frat boys. Peeing on the side of the building and busting up the door. Not the way to act in another country. It appears that Ryan Lochte lied through his teeth and the money was to pay for damages. At least this is according to 2 of the other swimmers. I’m not judging yet, I want the full story but it sure doesn’t look like Lochte is on the right side of this.

  19. And the Brazilian press conference on this sure didn’t help matters any. It was a hot mess. Even CNN’s legal expert weighed in and said the Brazilian police basically said ‘he was never threatened, but someone may have put a gun to his head and extorted money from him.”

    I suspect, as many of you have said, it’s a mixture of drunk Olympians causing childish mayhem, and brazilian security guy shaking them down.

  20. Badgerite says:

    Very good points.

  21. BeccaM says:

    It wouldn’t be the first time an accuser was silenced by corrupt officials. “You withdraw the complaint and you go can go home. Fail to do so and we’ll jail you.” C’mon, the initial accusation was it was men pretending to be cops. Now it’s the cops saying the charges were a lie? Could be a cover-up every bit as much as it might’ve been Lochte and his friends lying.

    I agree: There is no sense in a rush to judgment when the facts may very well be in dispute.

  22. Glen Thompson says:

    Perhaps we could get Christine Brennan banned for life from reporting…… Or is that jumping the gun?

  23. heimaey says:

    It sounds like they were doing something wrong like buying drugs, however, it could be just as you say – scenario 3. And having spent some time in Brazil it’s quite possible there are many things going on here. I’ve been bribed by police in SP and in Rio doing nothing, and I’ve known people who have done some stupid things and paid them off. It’s a strange place for law enforcement. Similar to Mexico although they are not looked down upon as much there (the law enforcement that is).

  24. Niblet58 says:

    Lochte screwed up by telling his mom he was “robbed” in order to make sure she didn’t find out he’d been a drunken idiot with his pals. He had no idea she was going to go public with the story and that the media would pick it up and run with her version.
    I don’t think they were “robbed”. I think they got busted for vandalizing the gas station bathroom door and were told to pay up on the spot or risk getting reported. There is no other way the gas station would have gotten any thing to pay for that door. Think of it as if a mob guy busts up your place and tosses you several bills to shut you up.
    If he had never told his mom, no one would have ever known what happened.

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