While the foreign press has been diligently trying to hunt down mosquitoes and murky water to report on, something much fishier has been going down at Rio 2016, and it isn’t floating belly up in Guanabara Bay. The fish, in this case, is a story with enough holes in it to make a slab of Swiss cheese proud.
Here’s the skinny: US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, along with three teammates, went out partying last Saturday night at the Club France in Ipanema. (Yes, the same Ipanema that the “tall and tan and young and lovely girl” hangs out.) The group left the party in the wee hours of Sunday morning and headed, by cab, back to the Athletes’ Village in the Barra, some 40 minutes away as the early dawn crow flies.
According to Lochte, he and his buddies left Club France at 4:00 a.m. and “somewhere” along the way, they were robbed, at gunpoint, by four men carrying police badges who forced them out of their taxi. If that wasn’t enough drama to scare the willies out of a sunga, when Ryan refused, he was rewarded with a cocked gun held to his forehead. Wow, can’t make this stuff up, folks. Or at least I didn’t think you could. Note: No mention by Lochte of what the taxi driver was up to throughout the harrowing ordeal.
Believe me, when Rio’s finest get wind of a potentially horrific episode like this, you can bet all your Biscoitos Globo that they won’t rest until they get to the bottom of it. And to the bottom of it they did: a conflicting version here, a changing version there, Club France’s video surveillance clocking them out at around 6:00 a.m., Athletes’ Village video surveillance clocking them in at 6:58 a.m. Hmm… And to add insult to injury, there they are, yuking it up and smiling while going through the metal detector, their allegedly stolen belongings clutched in hands.
It doesn’t take a Sherlock to conclude this cock and bull story is a belly flop in the deep end for Ryan and company. Note: The police are still looking for the illusive taxi driver.
If indeed Lochte’s story is a papo furado (b.s. to put it bluntly) and he can’t somehow backstroke his way out of it, this unfortunate incident could set off a tidal wave of legal ramifications. Millions of potential tourists, hearing his false claims, may decide not to visit Rio, thus costing the city, and Brazil, an untold amount in lost revenue. The list of possible defamation lawsuits filed by any number of Rio (and Brazilian) governmental entities is endless. And worst of all, it’s an uncalled for, unmerited, slap in the face for a city that has jumped through Olympian hoops to make Rio 2016 the tremendous success it has been.
Not cool, Ryan. Not cool at all.
I’ve always been a huge Lochte fan: 90 medals in major international competitions, enough accolades and awards to make even a Muhammad Ali blush, endorsements up the yin yang, and real easy on the eyes to boot. Granted, not the brightest bulb in the pool, but so what, how can you not like the guy!
Which has led me to ponder: Ryan, what were you thinking? The boys out on the town part? I get it. Caipirinhas were flowing. You’re in the Cidade Maravilhosa where the days are warm, the nights are hot, and the carioca gatinhas are even hotter. Your main squeeze is back at her hotel. You know she won’t be amused by your shenanigans, so you invent a scary story just to get out of an argument. Pô, cara, that’s the oldest trick in the book. Try it on a carioca and she wouldn’t buy it, not even if the cow coughed.
“Ryan, where were you?”
“Kayla, I was… robbed at gunpoint.”
“OMG, Ryan, that’s awful!”
“Uh huh, yeah. I was… uh, definitely robbed.”
We have a word in Portuguese: jeitinho. It’s the knack of MacGyvering oneself out of a complicated situation. In your case, Ryan? You blew it. Mané, tu vacilou. You took a nose dive on the mayonnaise. Rule number one when applying a jeitinho? Don’t irritate the authorities and don’t insult your host.
So here’s the deal, Ryan. Once you’ve gone on every U.S. TV station that will have you and you come clean, stating unequivocally that your story was not true, then come on back to Rio. All these wonderful people who welcomed you with open arms deserve a sincere apology.
And who knows. Maybe the cariocas will eventually forgive you, and it’ll be a great topic for conversation over a few chopps or capirinhas at the local boteco.