USOC Apologizes Over 'Robbed' Swimmers

2 athletes allowed to fly home
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2016 2:46 AM CDT
USOC Apologizes Over 'Robbed' Swimmers
A frame from surveillance video shows the swimmers at the gas station.   (Brazil Police via AP)

An embarrassed US Olympic Committee apologized Thursday night for what it called a "distracting ordeal": the alleged robbery of four US swimmers, which Brazilian police now say was a fabrication. In a statement, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said sorry to "our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil" for the athletes' unacceptable behavior, CNN reports. According to the statement: As the USOC understands it, the four men stopped at a gas station Sunday night, where one of them committed an act of vandalism. After an argument, armed security staff displayed their weapons and ordered them to pay for the damage before they left. Some of the incident was captured on surveillance video. In other developments:

  • Swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, who were pulled off their plane home Wednesday night, were allowed to fly out on Thursday night, the AP reports. Ryan Lochte left Brazil earlier in the week. A fourth swimmer, James Feigen, is still in Brazil, seeking to have authorities return his passport.

  • Rio police Chief Fernando Veloso says the other swimmers have told authorities that Lochte made up the robbery story. "No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed," he said Thursday, per the BBC.
  • Sergio Riera, a lawyer for Bentz and Conger, tells the Washington Post that the men didn't lie to police or anybody else, though they didn't speak up when Lochte gave a false account to the press. Riera says the swimmers arrived at the gas station to use the bathroom, and when one wasn't available, two of the men urinated at the back of the station. He says that after Lochte attracted the attention of security staff by punching an ad in a metal frame to the ground, an English-speaking customer had to translate. "Imagine what the conversation must have been like," he says. "A firearm, one talking Portuguese, the others talking English, totally frenetic, drunk, and they came to an agreement to pay the damage. They gave a $20 note and 100 reals and got another taxi and went away."
  • Police say Lochte and Feigen could face charges of false reporting of a crime. Lochte's lawyer tells ABC News that he wouldn't be surprised if there were charges, though he insists that there really was a robbery. "A gun was pointed at the swimmers and they were forced to get out of their cab and give up their money," he says. "No matter what happened at that gas station, the swimmers were robbed by people with a gun appearing to be law enforcement."
  • The AP reports that the swimmers could face probation, suspension, a fine, or expulsion under USA Swimming's code of conduct.
(More Ryan Lochte stories.)

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