Did Ryan Lochte forget that cameras are everywhere?

Olympic swimmer's claim that he and fellow athletes were robbed at gunpoint in Rio appears to unravel because of video footage. Indeed, Lochte has now been indicted.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Ryan Lochte telling his original story to NBC.

The Today Show/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It seemed like such a swimmingly good story.

Famed Olympian Ryan Lochte was out in Rio with three fellow swimmers last Sunday morning when he claimed that they were halted and robbed by armed men dressed as police officers.

He told NBC's "Today Show" that the whole thing had been dramatic.

"The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and said 'get down.' I was like (puts hands up) I put my hands up. I was like 'whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet," was how he explained it.

In today's world, there may be many whatevers. But the eyes of gadgets are wherever you are.

It isn't just that bystanders have cellphones. Businesses have surveillance cameras, governments have surveillance cameras. Any large city like Rio is especially likely to have a proliferation. The UK, for example, is said to now have 6 million security cameras. Everyone uses cameras to film everyone.

As the Brazilian police investigated Lochte's claims, discrepancies emerged. Lochte began to alter details of his tale and the scrutiny of the electronic eye allegedly told a very different story. Lochte and fellow swimmer James Feigen have now been indicted on charges of false reporting of a crime, reports ABC News.

Police interviewed witnesses, but also reportedly looked at surveillance footage from a gas station. The footage, police say, shows Lochte and friends allegedly damaging a bathroom door and getting into a confrontation with a security guard. "No robbery was committed against these athletes," Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said during a news conference Thursday.

Moreover, footage obtained by the Daily Mail appeared to show Lochte and his friends returning to the Olympic Village on the night of the alleged robbery and appearing to be in perfectly playful spirits.

While Lochte is already back in the US, two of his fellow swimmers, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, were prevented by authorities from leaving Brazil until they give full statements on the alleged incident. The third, Jimmy Feigen is still in Rio and said to be cooperating with authorities.

The United States Olympic Committee didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some, though, might find the statement offered by Rio 2016 Communications Director Mario Andrada a little perplexing.

As the LA Times reports, Andrada mused: "No apologies are needed from the athletes. This case they were having fun -- training under pressure. I understand they are under investigation. Cannot go much further. Give these kids a break, sometimes we make actions that we later regret. They had fun. They made a mistake. Life goes on."

Calling Lochte a kid is a touch bemusing, given that he's 32.

Still, most kids know that anyone and everyone might be watching what they're doing in the outside world and even in the apparent safety of their own gadget-filled life.

SB Nation quotes the owner of the gas station as explaining that his security footage is revelatory: "They stopped at the side of the gas station. There's footage of the ass of one of them, pants down. They were asked to go to the restroom, but peed on the wall. They didn't obey the board on the wall, didn't go to the restroom."

This is likely to come down to what the cameras show and what the lawyers will now negotiate.

Just as electronics decides who won the individual medley, it can also reveal at least some of what really happened late at night in a gas station.