Swimmer Ryan Lochte may have helped create an international incident.
Police in Rio are now saying Lochte and fellow swimmer Jimmy Feigen fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint over the weekend in order to cover up an altercation at a gas station.
Authorities reviewed surveillance and witness reports and are now saying that the two, along with Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, stopped at a gas station early Sunday morning on the way back from a party at the French Olympic team's hospitality suite. One of the swimmers broke down the door of an outdoor bathroom at the station and the group were then confronted by an armed security guard.
Witnesses say the swimmers paid for the damages to the door with cash and then left.
Yesterday, a judge ordered the seizure of Lochte and Feigen's passports. Lochte slipped out of Brazil before the order and Feigen did not show up for his flight.
Conger and Bentz were taken off their flight from Rio last night and it's being reported that the two told police the robbery account was indeed made up.
It's unclear at what point they allegedly decided to lie about the whole thing or just who the mastermind was—if a shady tale that's light on details and is reported with multiple, conflicting accounts, can be said to have a mastermind.
Lochte spoke to NBC's Matt Lauer over the phone yesterday and now the Today Show, who aired the first post-"robbery" interview is falling all over themselves to defend the swimmer. Lauer has said that Lochte has now "softened" certain details of the story, but is sticking to it.
Billy Bush, who interviewed Lochte for the original segment, said today that he believed the Olympians story because, "Lochte, even when he's completely lucid, I don't think has the ability to weave a mellifluous tale with details..." before being interrupted by Al Roker, who was just so impressed by Bush's vocabulary choice.
So yeah, Ryan Lochte's biggest media supporter in this boondoggle is a morning show host who thinks he's too dumb to make up a good robbery story.
Things are not looking great for him.
UPDATE: Reuters reports that Brazilian police are considering charges against Lochte and Feigen for falsely reporting a crime.