We've all heard the story. US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates claimed to have been robbed -- at gunpoint -- while on their way back to the Olympic village.
But were they?
After further review, as they say, the Brazilian authorities are counter-claiming the very items that were supposedly taken from them showed up on their persons while passing through an X-ray scanner when entering the above mentioned village.
One is left to wonder why in the world Lochte and company would make up such a story. What did they possibly have to gain by it? Publicity? They certainly got that, but it's of the empty sort. They really stood to gain nothing. Further, if Lochte, etc., get caught in Walter Mitty land, they can kiss their reputations good-bye. Along with any future -- cha-ching-- endorsements.
On the other hand, it's equally difficult to imagine the Brazilian authorities would offer refuting X-ray evidence if it didn't exist.
One way or the other -- something's gotta give.
In the meantime, Lochte made it out of the country before his passport was confiscated. His teammates weren't as fortunate. Reports say two of them were hauled off an airplane and the other never even made it as far as the airport. Without their passports, they're not going anywhere.
To boot, it appears the story Lochte and Co. initially told the police is starting to unravel. Things aren't adding up on their behalf.
Either it happened or it didn't. If the former, no doubt the three remaining swimmers will have their passports returned and they'll quickly fly back to the semi-safe confines of the USA. It's also a safe bet the American authorities will question them at great length, but at least they'll be home.
However, if the latter, what comes next could well be a diplomatic chess match. America is going to want their athletes back. Brazil might well wish to prosecute all four of them while hanging on to the three they have and requesting Lochte be extradited to face justice in Rio.
That could get sticky if both sides dig in. After what has -- so far -- been a relatively successful Olympics, this could put a serious international stain on them.
For the sake of the swimmers -- at least they weren't injured or worse -- let's hope the robbery really happened. This mess could be tied up in a hurry with a happy ending. Brazil would pursue the robbers and the Americans could go about their business.
But if it was all a scam -- then what? Would Brazil actually throw these guys in jail awaiting trial for filing a false police report? It seems unlikely, because America, rightly or wrongly, would be outraged.
Or might "higher authorities" intervene and reach a quid pro quo? America gets its jocks back, no harm no foul, but has to give the Rio folks something in return. Of course, all this would be done quietly at higher levels of government and the official story could be spun in any number of ways. The public(s) might never know what kind of deal was reached.
For the sake of argument, would Lochte and his buds really go to such extremes to get attention with such a scam? Sure, they've been living in the long shadow cast by Micheal Phelps, but this would be ridiculous. It could only turn out badly -- as it has so far.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.