by Rob Joyce
Ryan Lochte nabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons at the Rio Olympics. His gold in the 4×200 meter freestyle gave him 12 medals all-time, including six golds, and should have put him in the discussion as one of the greatest American swimmers. Instead, he was caught in what turned out to be the scandal of the Games. He and three other U.S. swimmers claimed to be robbed at gunpoint one night in Rio, but the story quickly spiraled out of control. Video footage showed Lochte and the others getting into a confrontation at a gas station, where public urination and small-scale vandalism occurred. Lochte admitted he over-exaggerated the robbery story, and no one quite knows what exactly happened. What we do know is this: he sensationalized a story, was indicted by Brazilian authorities and has lost endorsements because of it.
Whether you call it a lie or a vast stretching of the truth, the story will follow Lochte wherever he goes from now on, as he joins a list of these other athletes who got caught telling a lie:
If we included every athlete who took performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it, we’d never complete our list. However, Armstrong is an exception. For years and years and years, as he went about beating cancer, then winning seven straight Tour de France titles, heading the Livestrong Foundation and becoming one of the most popular athletes in American history, he vehemently denied doping allegations. But a years-long investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency concluded he did in fact take them, in what was described as “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Alas, his interview to Oprah Winfrey cemented his fall from grace, as his Tour titles were stripped and he received a lifetime ban from competing an any World Anti-Doping Agency-followed sport.
The list of steroid-users in baseball, alleged or otherwise, is a long one. Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds would probably highlight this list, but Palmeiro’s defiance in a 2005 Congressional hearing puts him on this list. He told Congress “I have never used steroids, period” and sternly pointed his finger while saying it. Five months later, he tested positive for steroids and in 2007 was named in the infamous Mitchell Report. Despite being one of only five players in both the 500 home run and 3,000 hit clubs, he received only 4.4 percent of Hall of Fame votes in his fourth appearance on the ballot, making him ineligible to appear one it in the future.
Almonte became a star as he led a team out of the Bronx to a third-place finish at the 2001 Little League World Series. As a 12-year-old he consistently topped 70 miles per hour and beyond, dominating the competition by throwing both a no-hitter and a perfect game in the tournament. However, he was so dominant and imposing that it led to multiple investigations into finding out if Almonte was really 12. Both parents had a birth certificate indicating as such – but it was found to be false. Almonte was in fact 14 at the time of the tournament and the “Baby Bombers” forfeited their wins, and it sparked a nationwide controversy.
A senior at USC at the time, Shaw injured both of his ankles in an off-field incident before the start of the season. Naturally, Trojan coaches questioned what happened, and Shaw claimed he jumped from a second story apartment into a pool to save his drowning nephew. Considered a hero, it turns out only half the story was true. He did indeed jump from the second story into the pool, but it wasn’t to save anyone – he was avoiding the police that were called by a neighbor upon hearing Shaw fight with his girlfriend. No charges were filed, but the team suspended Shaw until November.
Fausto Carmona seemed destined for stardom when he went 19-8 and finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2007 with the Indians. The rest of his career has not nearly been as effective, and the pitcher no longer goes by the name Fausto Carmona. That’s because in 2012 he was arrested in his native Dominican Republic and was accused of using a false identity to obtain a visa. It turned out his real name is Roberto Hernandez and he was three years older than his fake visa indicated. He was eventually granted a work visa and allowed back in the U.S., was suspended for three weeks by Major League Baseball and is currently a free agent after bouncing around the league for a few seasons.