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The consequences of ‘exaggeration’

During the Rio Olympics, U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte caused a stir when he claimed he was robbed at gunpoint at a gas station in Rio. The story received immediate attention. Weeks later, Americans were stunned to discover the story was a lie. 

Mario Andrada, a spokesman for the Rio Olympics organizing committe went on the defense of Lochte and his teammates.

“We need to understand that these kids were trying to have fun. Sometimes you take actions that you later regret,” said Andrada.

Andrada’s statement would make sense if it was referring to a teenager who got caught playing hooky from school. It does not make sense when it is referring to a 32-year-old man and three of his teammates, who drunkenly defaced and urinated on public property. They did not make any attempt to fix the damage beyond giving a small amount of money to armed security guards. They then proceeded to lie about the incident, causing a major distraction from the 2016 Olympic Games and embarrassing the host city, Rio de Janeiro. 

The repercussions have rolled in steadily for Lochte. Rio requested an investigation into the incident. At home, Lochte lost his claims to four major sponsorships in the span of an evening.

The fact of the matter is he lied while residing in another country and representing the U.S., embarrassing the same Americans who had vouched for him weeks before.

The incident happened and there’s nothing he could have done about it after the fact, but there was no need to lie about it.     

Lochte has come forward and apologized, but the end is not in sight for the man who coined the phrase “Jeah.” Many suspect his Olympic career is over, while his new place on Dancing with the Stars has just begun.

Wherever one stands on this event in Olympic history, the truth is clear: these were not kids who were playing hooky. These were grown men who embarrassed a country and its people by lying and committed an unacceptable act.

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