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Christine Brennan of USA Today and Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro came to an end Sunday night with the expected pomp and circumstance, as people from many countries celebrated some brilliant athletic feats from a number of hard-working, well-trained athletes. But what cast a cloud over the Games last week was not the flaws in Rio’s preparations or a disputed call in a match. Instead, it was the behavior of our swimmers from the United States, led by Ryan Lochte, who apparently lied about an encounter with security guards at a gas station.

Some of the best commentary on this sorry episode has come from two women who have been covering major sports — including the Olympics — for decades: Christine Brennan of USA Today and Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post.

Brennan covered the Lochte matter from the very beginning, reporting on Monday, “U.S. gold medalist Ryan Lochte said robbers posing as police pointed a gun at his head and took his money, while three other U.S. swimmers with him were forced to lie on the ground by their assailants and also were robbed.”

But when his story began to unravel, she called for Lochte to apologize. Brennan wrote: “No matter what happened in that gas station, no matter how muddled the whole embarrassing mess still might be, Lochte made up a lie to cover up alleged vandalism at the very least, and in so doing, stole the heart and soul out of the second week of the 2016 Rio Games.”

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And once Lochte made an apology, she put that in perspective, writing: “In his apology, the 32-year-old Lochte actually mentioned his sponsors before referring to ‘the hosts of this great event.’ Sponsors first is so Lochte-esque. Or perhaps it was the PR firm now representing him who thought of that one.”

Meanwhile, Jenkins brought her own smart take to the story. “Ryan Lochte is the dumbest bell that ever rang,” she wrote as news of the lie broke.

She added: “Is there anything worse, in any country, than a bunch of entitled young drunks who break the furniture and pee on a wall? There is no translator needed for that one, no cultural norm that excuses it. If I had been working at that Brazilian gas station, I might have pulled a gun on them, too.”

Jenkins also pulled no punches in her analysis of Lochte’s apology. “His so-called apology was a lame, crisis-crafted statement that showed zero sincerity and no awareness of his affront to Brazil and, if anything, only added to the insult by continuing to suggest he’s somehow this country’s victim,” she said.

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The reasons the work of Brennan and Jenkins should be noted are, they are two sportswriters who entered the profession at a time when there were huge barriers to women in the field, they excelled at their work and rose through the ranks, and they have “given back” to other women in sports journalism through the Association for Women in Sports Media and personal mentoring.

Brennan and Jenkins have worked hard to get to a point where they can be the voices of reason covering a story that is chaotic, to say the least. We thank them for being pioneers and for continuing to do their work so well.

Brava!

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  • Mickey August 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    That story, that incident with the U.S. swimmers, oh, dudes, please, 32 year old men shouldn’t need babysitters or handlers to keep them from peeing on the wall. So embarrassing and then the “apology” is a commercial ad? Thanks for this story. Thank you, Christine and Sally.

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