DERIDED as ‘the dumbest bell who ever rang’ and symbolic of ‘everything the world hates about Americans’ by the US media, swimmer Ryan Lochte, who has 12 Olympic medals to his name, had an appalling outing in Rio de Janeiro, but not for sporting reasons.
The celebrity-minded 32-year-old, who sometimes goes by the nickname ‘The Lochtenator,’ came under such intense criticism following his false police report - pretending he had been robbed at gunpoint in the Brazilian city - that the US Olympic Committee was forced to apologise on his behalf, while his fellow teammates wisely distanced themselves from his drunken antics.
Lochte claimed he and his teammates were robbed after four armed men dressed as police officers stopped their taxi in the early hours of August 14. A police investigation, eyewitness and CCTV evidence, however, all suggested Lochte and his gang were drunk and had vandalised a bathroom at a petrol station.
Conveniently by the time his story unravelled, Lochte was safely back in America, while two of his teammates had their passports confiscated. Though he’s since completed the mandatory morning television sombre apologies, Lochte has ruined his already poor image and made an enemy of roughly 300 million Brazilians.
Hardly anybody in the city actually wanted the Olympics to invade, just two years after the similarly unwelcome World Cup. Bars across Rio refused to air the Games (except the Brazilian football matches) and the implication by much of the world’s media that Rio was infested with crime and violence wasn’t appreciated.
Lochte’s antics only served to reinforce that image and ‘The Lochtenator’ would be well advised to stay clear for a few decades or so.