Authorities in Rio are currently investigating the validity of claims made by U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and James Feigen, who said that they were robbed at gunpoint last Sunday by men posing as police officers.
Police arrived Wednesday morning at the Olympic Village to take Lochte and Feigen’s passports and gather further testimony from them about the reported robbery, said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky. As the swimming portion of the Rio Games had come to a close, Lochte had already returned home to the United States. The USOC confirmed late Wednesday that Conger and Bentz had been removed from their return flights, while NBC News reported that Feigen had checked in online from the airport but never boarded his plane.
Sandusky and the USOC later released a statement saying, "Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained Wednesday night shortly before their flight was scheduled to depart from Rio. They were released by local authorities with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday. James Feigen is also communicating with local authorities and intends to make further statements regarding the incident on Thursday as well. We will continue to provide updated information as it is appropriate."
USOC statement regarding U.S. swimmers >>https://t.co/qz2c7CG04b— U.S. Olympic News (@USOlympicNews) August 18, 2016
On Wednesday night, Matt Lauer spoke with NBC Olympics anchor Bob Costas after interviewing Lochte over the phone from his home. According to Lauer, the 12-time Olympic medalist left Rio without knowing the police wanted to investigate his claims.
"[Nobody] in law enforcement, said, 'Hey, it would be a great idea if you stick around Rio while the investigation unfolds,'" Lauer said, recounting Lochte's recollection of the events.
The Today show host also reported that Lochte had been surprised by the casual nature of the Rio police after the swimmers reported their story. Lochte also told Lauer that authorities never questioned his truthfulness, and even congratulated him on his performance at the Rio Games, where he won a gold medal in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.
According to Lochte's original retelling of events, the four swimmers were taking a taxi after a night of partying when their cab was pulled over by men flashing police badges. He said the criminals then proceeded to brandish a gun, putting it to his forehead before making off with their money, but leaving their phones and Olympics credentials.
Brazilian authorities have stated that they have not found the driver of the taxi in question, and have raised other concerns regarding the validity of their claims.
According to Lauer, Lochte's story did change slightly during their conversation when the Olympian recounted the robbery.
"He didn't say he was pulled over by these people pretending to be police," Lauer reported, explaining that Lochte remembered the cab pulling into a gas station so the swimmers could use the bathroom. When they returned, Lochte told Lauer, the cab driver wouldn't pull away from the station.
That is when the criminals allegedly pulled them out of the car. And, unlike Lochte's previous claim that one robber put the gun to his head and cocked it, Lauer says the swimmer told him, "That’s not exactly what happened."
"When he talked to me tonight, he said, 'That's when the guy pointed the gun in my direction, and cocked it.'"
Lauer concluded by sharing Lochte's response to speculation that he and his fellow swimmers made up the robbery to cover up some illicit activity or embarrassing behavior that would have possibly gotten them in trouble.
"He stopped me quickly and strongly denied that. He said, 'That’s absolutely not the case. I wouldn't make up a story like this, nor would the others. As a matter of fact, we all feel it makes us look bad. We’re victims in this and we’re happy that we're safe,'" Lauer reported.
As for Conger and Bentz, NBC reports that the swimmers are currently being questioned by Brazilian authorities, and their lawyers, as well as a representative from the American consulate, have visited them at the police station.