A Brazil police official said Thursday that Ryan Lochte and three other American Olympic swimmers “fabricated” a claim that they were held at gunpoint during the Rio Olympics.
Instead, they were in a “rowdy gas station confrontation,” the official said, according to the Associated Press.
Investigators say a bathroom door was damaged in the incident at a Shell Gas station around 6 a.m. local time, where the swimmers stopped as they headed home from a party, The New York Times reported.
The swimmers — Lochte, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and James Feigen — had initially said they were on their way home from a party early Sunday when they were “stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings,” according to a statement issued last week by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
But what appeared to be inconsistencies in their story brought doubt this week and caused contention among Brazil and U.S. officials during the Rio Olympics.
On Wednesday night, authorities removed Conger and Bentz from their return flights home and briefly detained and questioned them. Authorities said they would continue questioning Thursday. Feigen had also “been communicating with local authorities,” The Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, Lochte had already left Brazil.
Lochte told NBC News last week: “We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over,” he said. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so—I’m not getting down on the ground.”
“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
The International Olympic Committee initially disagreed with this version of events. Spokesman Mark Adams said it was “absolutely not true,” later retracting that statement just before the United States Olympic Committee issued its own confirming the robbery.
But surveillance footage of the swimmers returning to the Olympic Village raised suspicion, as the group seemed to be behaving normally, even “relaxed,” as they passed their belongings through a metal detector, BBC reported.
Also, several of Lochte’s statements seemed to contradict his earlier claims. Initially, he said a robber put a gun to his forehead, but on Wednesday said in an interview with Matt Lauer that the gun was pointed in his “general direction.” He added that their taxi was stopped at a gas station when the robbery occurred, after he had previously said that it was pulled over by men claiming to be police.
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