Should Ryan Lochte be stripped of his medals and banned from future competitions for his behavior at the Rio Olympics? Why or why not?

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-“With whom much is given, much is expected”. When you’re in a position as Ryan Lochte, with a great deal to lose, you have to be careful.

Be mindful, those athletes involved are all humans, and imperfect ones at that, but that does not exclude their juvenile and irresponsible behavior.

The thrill to do whatever you want is utmost high when you’re in a foreign country, especially when you’re Lochte who boasts 12 medals, including a gold from Rio in the 4×200 freestyle relay. My commendations to him on his achievements.

On that note, getting drunk with your friends and vandalizing property is not a simple occurrence to excuse. In some areas, they would have jailed and fined heavily. The police officer who demanded payments before they could leave had all rights to do so.

Now, there are several individuals wondering what’s Ryan’s position or faith in terms of future competitions and his present medals. In all honesty, what he did was definitely wrong. Lying about being robbed is also terrible. However, I don’t believe the committee needs to act rashly and ruin a man’s entire career and livelihood for this occurrence.

Obviously, he seemed remorseful. Cut him some slack. I’m sure he learned from what happened and would most likely not put himself in such an awkward position again. If he didn’t learn a fine lesson, that man is quite the idiot. He’s shown remorse, allow him to keep his medals and continue to participate in future events.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-It was bound to happen: A group of American athletes reported to USOC and American authorities that they were out on the town in Rio and were roughed up and robbed by thugs wearing what might have been police uniforms, even to the extent of Ryan Lochte, perhaps the most disappointing member of the U.S. swim team, having a gun pressed against his head.

Since the story fit so well with the narrative about the crime-ridden favelas and corrupt law enforcement structure in Rio, every major news outlet took the story and ran with it faster than Usain Bolt being chased by a cheetah. (Note: the cheetah would lose.) Single-sourced “facts” were bruited about and the swimmers were portrayed as good, honest, fun-loving young ‘Murricans who were simply supporting the local economy by consuming as much alcohol as humanly possible.

Of course we now know, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. Lochte, James Feigen and the others were detained at a gas station, but only after Lochte and another swimmer urinated on the ground and ripped a poster off a wall. They were made to pay for the damage (actually, the amount they paid seems pretty excessive) and let go. It would have ended there but for Lochte deciding to run off at the mouth with his story of robbery and menace.

And why? Why did he do it? “White privilege” has been blamed loudly in some corners, the theory being that the swimmers see themselves as somehow above the law and took umbrage at being called down for their behavior. “Youthful exuberance” has also been cited, although if that were the case then I think Simone Biles might have been seen setting fire to dumpsters all over Rio.

I’m going to advance a different argument: lack of pride in the country they represent. If these young men truly respected and honored the country for which they compete, which has supported and trained them and put them among the best in the world, they would have behaved like human beings rather than animals. Their lack of respect for the U.S. and the U.S. team is appalling, and every one of them should be banned from competing under the auspices of this country ever again.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-The topic of athletes as role models has been much discussed in recent decades with the advent of 24-hour news and sports coverage as well as an explosion of information and opinions available on the Internet. Recent mega-stars to get knocked off their pedestals for misbehavior outside of their sport include Tiger Woods, Pete Rose, Kobe Bryant, and Lance Armstrong. Ryan Lochte is only the latest in the long line of world-class athletes who have done something stupid and tried to get away with it.

The crux of this perceived problem is that society has decided that superb athletes must be outstanding human beings as well. As if either is the prerequisite for the other. I cannot think of a presumption/assumption/requirement more ludicrous than linking ability with behavior. Do we measure the rest of the world by that standard? Of course not. We’ll say someone excels at their job but isn’t a very nice person. Or we’ll note that someone is an absolute saint of a person, volunteers for charity, is honest to a fault, unselfish, loving, caring, etc., but will, in the next breath say that so-and-so is not good at her job, or he doesn’t finish his work assignments on time, or she is unimaginative when it comes to solving problems at work.

For example, suppose one of these everyday people who is an excellent worker but not a “good citizen” lands the new gigantic sales account that ensures a profitable year for the company and bonuses for all the workers. He goes out to celebrate that night, gets drunk, and is arrested for driving home while intoxicated. Does the company take away his sales commission? I don’t know for sure in all cases, but I doubt it. The salesman earned his commission. Whatever comes after that should not negatively affect his livelihood. He may well get fired for having broken a law that is a cause for termination according to company rules (i.e.- no DWIs or you’re fired), but the company should only take back his commission if he used illegal means to close the deal.

Ryan Lochte earned his swimming medals in this and previous Olympic Games. Whatever he did after winning those medals that didn’t involve illegal or immoral behavior to win the medals should not negatively affect his accomplishment. Getting drunk and then lying to cover up immature behavior doesn’t warrant a severe punishment like banishment and stripping him of his medals. He’s being penalized more than enough by having his sponsors and endorsements disappear right and left.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Ryan Lochte and his Olympic friends not only lied about being robbed, but they broke the law themselves in supposedly vandalizing a rest stop bathroom after partying in Rio most of the night. In order to cover their actions, they concocted a story about being robbed at gunpoint.

Lochte has been charged with disorderly conduct and vandalism, and he may be charged with filing a false police report, which is a crime that is punishable in Brazil with large fines and possible detention. Brazilian authorities would like to extradite him, but the misdemeanors he committed are not categorized as extraditable crimes.

Brazil may still try to punish Lochte by issuing an international fugitive warrant through other countries. This kind of action would confine him to the United States as he could be arrested if caught traveling outside of the country.

Perhaps Lochte should have to sit out a few future swimming competitions, though he did appear to humble himself in a recent public apology. It is obvious that immaturity and indiscretion were part of the problem concerning the robbery and the follow up police report.

Partying in a foreign country, particularly crime-ridden Brazil is not a good idea, especially when it involves interaction with local police or security guards that may attempt coercion with non-citizens, particularly Americans (especially high profile athletes). Lochte and other members of the team should have been thoroughly advised as to what could happen in Brazil with any kind of altercation the least bit criminal in nature. Frankly, he and the others should have partied within Team USA facilities, not late at night outside of a comfort zone.

Stripping Lochte of his medals does not solve the problem of bad choices. He was representing the United States in his role as an Olympic contender and trained hard for a spot on the team and won fairly. He certainly should take a hard look at what the Olympics means to other team participants, and it appears that he did in his recent statement. He needs to stick to what he said in the apology and go forward and not make the same mistake twice. Lochte may be an elite athlete, but he is not above common sense and the law.

Whatever the final outcome in this incident, Ryan Lochte has probably accepted what has happened and will hopefully not let youth and immaturity get the better of him in the future. He has likely learned his lesson, but having a night of fun in Rio could lead to further implications, which he, the United States swim team, the USOC and the IOC may end up paying for in one way or another.

Lochte won’t soon forget the Rio Olympics in spite of the gold medal status, which could still be forfeited if the IOC decides to pursue the incident. As he said in his apology, “I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.” Oftentimes youthful indiscretions result in lifetime consequences. It will be interesting to see the final outcome from a night of fun in Rio.

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