‘Lochte Mess Monster’: Press & social media lay into US swimmers after fake Rio hold up

U.S. swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz are escorted into a police station the morning after they were stopped from boarding a flight to the United States, in Rio de Janeiro, August 18, 2016. © Ueslei Marcelino
Aside from incurring the wrath of the people of Brazil for lying to police about being robbed at gunpoint, four US Olympic swimmers have also been facing a backlash further afield and also closer to home, with US-based tabloids laying into the sport stars.

The world was shocked after what started out as a fun night out at the French Olympic house in Rio de Janeiro, ended with US Olympians Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen claiming they had been robbed at gun point. 

However, the problem was that the not-so-fantastic foursome was being quite liberal with the truth. As their story started to unravel, so did the lies. There had been no armed hold-up – just a confrontation with a gas station guard who took exception to the US sportsmen trashing a bathroom.

“Ryan Lochte is everything the world hates about Americans,” read a headline from the New York Post, which laid into the second-most-decorated male Olympic swimmer of all-time. 

“The Ugly American is alive and well in 2016 thanks to this dope. Thanks for that, Ryan. Now don’t let the bathroom door hit you on the ass on your way to Palookaville,” wrote the article’s author Mike Vaccaro as the tirade against the 32-year-old continued.

Meanwhile the New York Daily News was also holding no punches as it got stuck into Lochte, who has had to live in the shadow of the greatest Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps, for much of his career.

Its print edition had a photograph of Lochte alongside the headline ‘The Lochte Mess Monster’.

There has been little sympathy for Lochte on Twitter or “the three other swimmers” as they have become known on social media.


While Lochte is back on US soil, two of the athletes involved in the incident in Rio de Janeiro, Bentz and Conger, faced chants of “liar, liar, liar” from a group Brazilians who were incensed at the fabricated allegations, as the pair left a police station in the city, footage from RT’s video agency Ruptly showed. 

The two swimmers were questioned for four hours in regards to their allegations that they were the victims of an armed robbery. The pair arrived back home on Friday after they were originally pulled from their flight to Miami by police on Wednesday for questioning. 

Renato Siqueira, a client at the same gas station where the four swimmers were involved in an altercation with a security guard after damaging a restroom, was scathing of their behavior. 

“It's shameful how these ‘gringos’ come to Brazil thinking it's all a mess. They came here created trouble at the gas station, broke everything and left. One is already in the US,” he told Ruptly. “As a Brazilian I hope the ones remaining here will be punished. They can't come here and think it’s all a carnival.”

Feigan, who is the only member of the group still in Brazil, has been trying to do his bit to try and gain an ounce of goodwill by saying he will donate $11,000 to charity, which will also allow him to leave Brazil. 

Meanwhile, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) was left to issue an apology condemning the actions of the athletes.

“We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence,” USOC chief Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

The statement confirmed police accusations that the swimmers had vandalized the gas station’s restroom after the group had stopped there while returning the Athletes Village.

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