Three U.S. swimmers are backing water … and so is Donald Trump. (More)

“The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable”

Brazilian authorities released Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger to fly home last night after the two U.S. swimmers told police what really happened on Sunday night. Neither spoke to police on Sunday, when teammates Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen falsely claimed the four were robbed at gunpoint, so neither Bentz nor Conger has been charged with a crime. But Feigen will reportedly pay an $10,800 fine for filing a false police report, and all four may face discipline from the U.S. Olympic Committee:

The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members. We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States. 

On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, 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.

As happens so often in sports, it came down to a video review:

Using video footage, accounts from witnesses and testimony from the swimmers, investigators said a security guard had brandished a gun after one or more of the athletes vandalized the gas station bathroom.

In his original account, Mr. Lochte claimed that men claiming to be police officers had pulled over the taxi and that an assailant had put a cocked gun to his forehead before taking his money. He later altered that account, saying the taxi had stopped at a gas station so the athletes could use the bathroom.

Lochte’s attorney is still clinging to the robbery story, saying “There was a uniformed person with a gun who forced them to hand over their money.”

Well yeah, that was the gas station security guard, and he demanded payment because for the damages they caused to a restroom. That’s “restitution,” not “robbery.”

Bentz and Conger reportedly told Brazilian police that Lochte came up with the idea for the robbery story, and Feigen agreed to go along with it.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro sums it up nicely:

Maybe panicky athletes from Kazakhstan or Kenya or Kuala Lampur might have reacted similarly and seized on the easy (though rooted-in-reality) narrative presented for months, that Rio was a cross between the Wild West of yore and the Fort Apache Bronx of the 1970s. Maybe it would have occurred to a rower from Rwanda or a decathlete from Denmark or a sprinter from Spain to go that way. Maybe. But that’s not who did this.

Ryan Lochte – Ugly American with a truly ugly hairstyle – did it.

So we have him, and his kind, to thank for the suspicious stares we get on the streets of Prague, or the rolled eyes we get standing in line for gelato in Florence, or the curious questions we get from cab drivers in County Clare.

But it’s not as if Lochte had no prominent role model to emulate….

“You don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing”

After all, Donald Trump has spent most of his presidential candidacy making up ugly lies about Scary Brown People. And yesterday he backed water too:

“Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” Trump said, with a slight smile, during a campaign rally here.

“And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues,” he said. “But one thing; I can promise you this: I will always tell you the truth.”

And that last sentence is yet another lie.

In the Big Scheme Of Things, Lochte’s and Feigen’s lies were a small matter. If Lochte owns up to it, apologizes, and pays a fine like Feigen, then their folly should and will soon be forgotten.

But Trump is the living, breathing poster child for The Ugly American … and the Republican nominee for President of the United States. That’s not a small matter, and we dare not overlook his folly.

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Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Good day and good nuts