Ryan Lochte Claims He Was 'Highly Intoxicated' When He Lied About Rio Robbery

By Victoria Kim 08/24/16

Lochte could face a lifetime ban from swimming pending a decision from the US Olympic Committee for "over-exaggerating" about the Rio robbery. 

Ryan Lochte Claims He Was 'Highly Intoxicated' When He Lied About Rio Robbery
Photo via NBC News/YouTube

Over the past week, U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has been backtracking on his account of being pulled over on the street and robbed at gunpoint in Rio in the early hours of Sunday, August 14—and he’s blaming it on being “highly intoxicated.”

The morning after the incident—still Sunday—the 32-year-old swimmer told Billy Bush of the Today show that he and his teammates Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz were forced to hand over money with a gun to his head. “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,” Lochte told Bush. The men drew their guns and told the swimmers to get down on the ground, but Lochte said he refused. “And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead … He took our money, he took my wallet.”

Since more details of what happened that night have been revealed by both Rio authorities and the swimmers, it became clear that Lochte and his teammates had not been pulled over by armed men, but were causing a disturbance at a gas station when the gun was drawn and money was exchanged.

USA Today Sports spoke to Fernando Deluz, a witness at the scene who was able to deescalate the situation, serving as a Portuguese-English translator. The swimmers had stopped by the gas station to use the restroom on their way back to the Olympic Village after a night of partying. According to USA Today, the men urinated behind the gas station and Lochte tore a poster off a wall.

The situation became heated when the swimmers attempted to flee after the damage was done, rather than resolve the issue, according to Deluz. “[The real issue] was the attitude of the guys of messing up the place and then wanting to leave without a satisfactory resolution,” Deluz told USA Today.

Security guards at the gas station demanded money from the swimmers to pay for the property they vandalized, said Deluz. It’s possible that the Americans misinterpreted the situation due to the language barrier.

Deluz said the swimmers appeared to be highly intoxicated and seemed like they were more than just drunk. He described them as visibly “very altered” and that he couldn’t tell “if it was drinking or drugs.” He said Lochte appeared to be “the one who was most altered” at the time of the incident.

This past Saturday, Lochte attempted to explain why he lied about the incident in two interviews—one with Brazil’s El Globo and another with Matt Lauer on Today—saying he was still “under the influence” during his interview with Billy Bush the morning after the incident occurred.

“I was still intoxicated. I was still under that influence,” he told Lauer. “And I’m not making—me being intoxicated—an excuse. I’m not doing that at all. I mean, it was my fault.”

“I was highly intoxicated and it was…I’m human,” he said in his interview with El Globo later that day. “I made a mistake and one thing I did learn, I learnt a lot from it and I know that this will never happen again.”

Amazingly, Lochte maintained that he did not lie about the incident, but was only embellishing. “I wasn’t lying to a certain extent. I over-exaggerated what was happening to me,” he said.

Lochte has since lost all of his major sponsors—including Speedo and Ralph Lauren—and could face a lifetime ban from the sport pending a decision from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr