Ryan Lochte treated the Rio Olympics like a lads’ trip, and the hangover is about to get real ugly

Gold medal or no Gold medal, the Olympic swimmer is not above criticism

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The Independent Online

What happens in Rio does not stay in Rio.

Fans may be amazed that it has gone so wrong for Ryan Lochte, the 12-time Olympic medalist, whose claims about an "armed robbery" are quickly unraveling in front of a global audience.

Admittedly, we don’t know the full story at this point, but Brazilian police have suggested that Lochte and his fellow partying athletes may have made up the story to cover up their own misdemeanours at a gas station - including public urination. 

CCTV footage certainly doesn't present Mr Lochte and co in a glowing light. And let's not forget these are men who were acting as national ambassadors at the largest sporting competition in the world - one watched by billions of people.

The Brazilians are furious. The host country might have known it would have to deal with surging road traffic and petty crime during the games, but authorities might not have been prepared to chase renowned athletes around the Olympic Village, grabbing their passports and yanking them off planes.

The epidemic of predominantly male athletes’ disruptive behaviour is not just limited to swimming. Over the course of decades all sorts of football players, Formula One drivers, cricketers, snooker and rugby players have smashed up hotel rooms, gotten into fist-fights and sometimes worse. They train hard, and they become celebrities. They are paid huge amounts of money from a young age, perhaps influencing their mindset that they have a right to behave as they wish.

As for Mr Lochte, the 32-year-old New Yorker should know better. What started out a silly story about a robbery could have had a swift ending - instead he has clung on to the tale, given it embellishments, hand gestures and an emotional post on Instagram.

Ryan Lochte CCTV released

Now his teammates have reportedly ratted him out, it remains to be seen how long Mr Lochte will cower under the protection of his father and his lawyer.

While fraternity type behaviour has increasingly come under the spotlight, and has been labelled as outdated and even inhumane - Eric Trump said his father's proposal to use waterboarding was nothing worse than what he and his bros got up to at college parties - Mr Lochte could well get away with his behaviour.

He has already emerged, arguably untainted, from a long history of laddish behaviour, including convictions for trespassing and public urination in 2005, and a disorderly conduct citation in 2010.

He was then rewarded with his own television show, called What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, just three years later.

 

While he wins an incredible number of Olympic medals and no doubt trains hard, his ego has evidently had an even stronger effect on his behaviour than a highly-sugared energy drink.

The winner of the Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Male Reality Star has a dedicated following who will no doubt be angered by any criticism leveled against him.

The news will also be hard to swallow for Americans, who cherish their sporting stars, sport scholarships at colleges and universities, and who have a long history of letting misconduct by sporting heroes go unpunished. 

But Mr Lochte's Gold Medal is not the "Sacred Cow" - if his colleagues cheat, lie or do drugs, they are turfed out of the competition. 

While athlete Gabby Douglas was slammed for her "bad attitude" at the games, just four years after being America's Golden Girl, Mr Lochte's very real and quantifiable bad behaviour has so far gone without consquence.

Just as Mr Lochte needs to step up and admit the truth, so does the Olympic Committee need to set an example that "laddish" and thuggish behaviour has no place on the global stage.

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