Lochte: I'm sorry ... but I was still robbed

With his teammates on the way back home, Ryan Lochte finally spoke out about the mess he left behind in Rio. In an Instagram statement, the Olympic medal winner apologized to fans for “my behavior,” and said he should have conducted himself more responsibly. However, Lochte did stick to one part of his story — the part that stirred up the controversy in the first place:

US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, who had falsely claimed he and three teammates were robbed in Rio, apologized Friday for his behavior, saying he should have been “more careful and candid” in explaining what happened.

“I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors and the hosts of this great event,” Lochte said in a statement carried on Twitter and Instagram.

Lochte is still sticking to one element of his original story — that he and his friends were robbed at gunpoint:

“It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave,” he said.

That makes this the kind of non-apology apology one normally sees in politics, but Lochte may have a point. The video evidence and later statements by the police in Rio corroborates his claim that they were held at gunpoint, not by the police but by security guards. The guards only let them go after they paid for the damage. As Allahpundit argued yesterday, that certainly might feel like a hold-up … as long as you conveniently leave out all the damage to the property and the argument that preceded it.

But if Lochte and his pals felt like they’d been held up, why not wait for the police to arrive and hash it out that way? That would be especially true if the amount of cash was $400 rather than the $50 Rio police claim changed hands. Their status as Olympic athletes would have given them some leverage with a city that wanted to make everything look as smooth as possible (although an intoxicated group might not have realized that advantage). Telling everyone they’d been held up without explaining the context also makes it look as though they knew then — and still know now — that it wasn’t a stick-up. A “stranger” didn’t just randomly “point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave,” an argument Lochte makes again without an explicit acknowledgment of the context. Sounds like an implicit recognition that his rationalization doesn’t hold water, if you’ll pardon the pun.

But at this point, the principals have all left Rio and the locals have accepted the USOC’s apology, if not Lochte’s. He says he’s “learned some valuable lessons.” Perhaps he’ll apply them in a political campaign in the not-so-distant future.