Opinion: Lochte’s credibility is shot

Calvin Stiteley, Sports Team Leader

Picture a guy who has achieved glory in every Olympics since 2004 in Athens. He is the second-most decorated Olympic swimmer in history behind you know who (Michael Phelps) with 11 medals over his career. He succeeded many times in making everyone in the U.S.A. proud. Or, at least he used to.

Ryan Lochte has long been known as one of the best swimmers in U.S. history next to Phelps. We as Americans have grown accustomed to watching Lochte standing on top of the pedestal. His legacy however, may forever be tarnished because of one night in Rio.

On Aug. 14, Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers were on their way home from a party in a taxi. Then, Lochte claimed that they had been robbed at gunpoint by two men posing as police officers. He said that they took their wallets and phones but not their phones or credentials.  

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over,” the 32-year-old swimmer told NBC’s Today Show, according to The Guardian.

Lochte even tweeted out a statement thanking his friends, family, and friends for all the support through the robbery situation. Now he had the whole country supporting him.

At first the story seemed very believable due to the fact that Rio de Janeiro has a reputation for being a corrupt, crime-infested city. It was the sort of thing that happened everyday. That is when things started to get a little sketchy.

Shortly after the incident, Lochte left the country. The only problem was that there was no concrete evidence to support their story, including the fact that they did not contact Brazilian authorities right after it happened. It was only until the media reported it when the authorities got involved.

Then, security footage came out showing the men walking into the Olympic Village, and they were pulling things out of their pockets such as their phones and wallets. They appeared to be intoxicated.

Then, more footage came out. Things started unraveling quite rapidly following the release of video footage from the gas station, which appeared to show the men getting confronted by security guards, who were yelling at them for vandalizing the bathroom at the gas station. At no point in the video did a man put a gun to Lochte’s head.

There it was. Physical proof that Lochte had lied. As the proof came out, Lochte admitted to being intoxicated and “over exaggerating” the story. Thus began the absolute bombardment of insults, loss of respect, and loss of endorsements for the swimmer. Speedo, Ralph Lauren, and two other major endorsements cut ties with him within one day, resulting in over $1 million lost for Lochte.

Unfortunately for him, we live in the era of social media, where millions are seeing anything major that happens to a famous person. Whatever respect he had was gone. He issued an apology via twitter soon after the events unfolded.

In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Lochte stated, “We’re just trying to get this over with,” Lochte said. “It’s been dragged out way too long. The media’s taken this to a whole new level. And I just want to put this behind me and move on and move forward, and I think the rest of the world wants that too. We’ve been talking about this way too long, and there’s other bigger issues that this world is facing.”

You can’t take Lochte’s medals or his legacy as an Olympian away. As for his credibility and everything he stands for, that’s another story.