Lochte continues to insist he was robbed at gunpoint, an assertion Rio Police deny outright. Meanwhile, security camera footage of the incident obtained by Globo, a Brazilian news source, appears to show a combination of drunken vandalism and public urination at a gas station. Once confronted, the swimmers apparently offered to pay for the damage.
But here’s one thing we do know: Ryan Lochte is 32 years old, and whatever happens, he should be treated like an adult.
That’s not the view of Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada, however. On Thursday morning while discussing the incident, Andrada essentially chalked the incident up to boys being boys and said it was time to move on.
“Let’s give these kids a break. Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They are magnificent athletes,” Andrada said at a press conference. “Lochte is one of the best swimmers of all times. They had fun. They made a mistake. It’s part of life. Life goes on.”
Let’s give these kids a break. - Rio spokesman Mario Andrada
Now, Andrada’s job as Rio spokesman is damage control, as this Washington Post profile makes clear. It’s his job to put a positive spin on every catastrophe, real or perceived, that befalls the games. But the fact is, none of the four swimmers are minors. Lochte is 32. James Feigen is 26. Jack Conger is 21. Even Gunnar Bentz, the youngest of the four, is 20.
Maybe they didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe they did. But if we live in a world in which children who actually are minors can be tried as adults, we certainly should view people who are legal adults as adults, too, regardless of the situation.
Being a “magnificent athlete” shouldn’t absolve you from living by the same rules as everyone else. Nothing should.