It’s about time.
Ryan Lochte, in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, says he takes full responsibility for a fiasco that has tarnished his swimming legacy.
After insisting that an armed thief masquerading as a police officer held a gun to his head during a robbery in Rio, Lochte told Laurer, in remarks that aired Saturday night, that he “embelished” his story. Lochte said:
“That’s why I’m taking full responsibility for it is because I over-exaggerated that story. If I never had done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess. None of this would have happened and it was my immature behavior.”
Lochte’s damage control comes after he issued a apology on Instagram for his behavior. It also comes after two of his relay teammates — Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz — issued statements in which they, in essence, thew Lochte under the bus when they said Lochte fabricated the original story.
Originally, Lochte claimed that he and his teammates were held at gun point and robbed by two men posing as Rio police officers, and one of them pointed a gun pointed at his forehead.
“He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials,” Lochte said.
Lochte said, in his apology, that he should have more accurately described what happened. Bentz, in his statement, said men he believed to be security guards detained the swimmers after Lochte damaged a poster at a gas station. The swimmers has stopped their to use the restroom. One of the guards drew a gun, Bentz said, but the simmers were allowed to leave after paying for the damage.
The incident has caused an uproar in Brazil as the country is very sensitive about perceptions of crime, especially during the Olympics. Brazilian authorities threatened to file charges of filing a false report in the case, but with all of the swimmers back in the United States — including Jimmy Feigen, the fourth member of the relay team — that seems unlikely.
Still, the whole mess is likely to stain Lochte for a while, and he could lose as much as $2 million in endorsement money as a result. It also remains to be seen how difficult it will be for Lochte to ut together another a relay team, if his current teammates are sufficientky soured by these events.
Lauer’s full interview with Lochte is scheduled to air Monday on “Today.”