Chakraborty: Lochte’s lack of punishment

Ryan Lochte’s name has been plastered across headlines everywhere, with many claiming the Olympic athlete has landed himself in hot water. However, to many it seems that Lochte has not yet received much punishment for his misconduct at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Claiming that he and his friends were robbed at gunpoint in the already controversial setting of Rio was a risky statement, which only gained more weight when it ended up being a complete lie.

The hard reality is that Lochte was intoxicated and vandalized a gas station in Rio, then was confronted by security guards carrying guns in an effort to negotiate payment for the damages. By changing the focus of the incident from his personal misdemeanor to blaming the turbulent environment of Brazil at the time and preying on people’s preexisting doubts about the Rio Olympics, Lochte should have been immediately branded as a shame to the American Olympic team.

Yes, he has been dropped by some major sponsors, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren, but the swimmer remains a part of the USA Swimming Member Service Organization and is still eligible to compete in future Olympics. What is more unbelievable is that despite his actions, Lochte has been recently endorsed by a cough drop brand and remains set to appear on an upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars”.

How is it that a swimmer who tarnishes not only the reputation of Brazil but also that of the U.S. team with his irresponsible behavior still gets to participate in the sport and immediately gets to work on restoring his image in the media? A lot of this may be attributed to his race and status. Lochte is well known in society as a skilled, wealthy, male, white swimmer. This definitely correlates with the fact that he seems to be allowed to break Brazilian law with few consequences. Even the coverage at the Olympics seems to be glossing over the fact that Lochte deliberately chose to lie and misrepresent the situation, rather labeling it a milder “exaggeration.”

In fact, NBC news stated that they were “embarrassed” when Al Roker came onto the show and stated that Lochte has lied to his mother, teammates and everyone else. The news channel felt that Roker’s sentiments regarding Lochte were not “justified” because they were too extreme. Somehow, even though Lochte is the man in the wrong, it is Roker who gets portrayed in a bad light for giving his opinions on air. It is appalling that confronting Lochte with the truth is too much, but we are quick to tear down other NFL, NBA and soccer players that exhibit poor behavior.