Disgraced U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte is continuing his apology tour for the fabricated robbery story that sparked international furor. With every step, his apology gets clearer, but Lochte still isn't taking full responsibility for outright lying about the circumstances.
"I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that we wouldn't be in this mess," he told NBC.
On Aug. 14, as an intoxicated Lochte returned from France Olympic House, he and the other swimmers stopped at a gas station to use the washroom.
Lochte vandalized the station, pulling apart a metal advertisement. When the swimmers tried to leave in a cab, they were stopped by men in security uniforms, who asked them to pay for the damages, and drew their weapons when the group attempted to leave.
Lochte later alleged that he had been robbed at gunpoint by these men.
Even as Lochte apologized later, he stuck to his robbery story that became the highlight of Rio Olympics 2016. The mayor of Rio went as far as to say that he has "pity and contempt" for the decorated athlete.
In this NBC interview, even as he conceded to the Rio Police’s version of the event, Lochte did not outright confess that he had lied.
"It's how you want to make it look like," the swimmer said. "Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages. We don't know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."
A disciplinary commission has been set up by the International Olympic Committee that will decide the punishment for Lochte and the three other U.S. swimmers accompanying him that night.
Lochte’s "immature behavior," as he deemed it, has had repercussions on his team-mates, too. Jimmy Feigen was made to pay 35,000 reais ($11,000) to a Brazilian charity before he could leave the country. Gunnar Bentz, a rising senior at Georgia University, had his reputation tarnished and issued an apology.
Bentz, along with team-mate Jack Conger, was pulled from a U.S.-bound flight for questioning. In revised statements, both athletes maintain they were not robbed on Aug. 14.
The one who will be hit the hardest will be the one who shoulders the blame, Ryan Lochte. His edgy attitude had helped him earn the sponsorship of Speedo and Ralph Lauren. However, with his notorious lies, he may lose his multi-million endorsement deals.
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