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Brazilian Police: US Swimmers Fabricated Robbery Story

  • VOA News

American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger, center, leave the police station at Rio International airport early Thursday Aug. 18, 2016.

American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger, center, leave the police station at Rio International airport early Thursday Aug. 18, 2016.

Brazilian police sources say U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three teammates fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint and in fact had damaged a gas station in Rio.

Lochte and his teammates James Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz stopped at a gas station early in the morning on their way back to the Olympic compound, according to the police sources who said they broke a bathroom door after finding it locked, and fought with guards who insisted they pay for the damage.

Rio Games organizers defended the swimmers, insisting "Let's give these kids a break."

"They competed under gigantic pressure...They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on," Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada told reporters Thursday.

Two members of the U.S. swim team, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were stopped and detained at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport as they tried to travel home Wednesday, the U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed.

“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. “We are gathering further information.”

Released but not allowed to leave Brazil

The two swimmers were later released by police under the condition that they continue to cooperate in the investigation and provide further testimony about the incident Thursday. They will not be allowed to leave the country until they speak further with police.

Lochte and the three other American swimmers said they were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday by thieves posing as police officers while the swimmers were returning to the athletes’ village by taxi after a night out at the French Olympic team’s hospitality house. The outing was several hours after Olympic swimming competition ended Saturday night at the Rio Games.

Feigen, who had remained in Brazil, will join Bentz and Conger on Thursday to provide a statement to police.

United States' Ryan Lochte checks his time in a men's 4x200-meter freestyle heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 9, 2016.

United States' Ryan Lochte checks his time in a men's 4x200-meter freestyle heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 9, 2016.

Lochte back in US

Earlier Wednesday, A judge issued an order preventing Lochte and Feigen from leaving the country, stating that they gave conflicting testimonies about being robbed.

But Lochte's father told the Associated Press his son returned to the U.S. before the order was issued.

Judge Keyla Blank also requested that the swimmers' passports be seized as authorities investigate their claims.

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