RIO OLYMPICS | 2 US swimmers leave Rio after robbery scandal; 3rd pays fine
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Two American Olympic swimmers were on their way home today after being pulled off a plane a day earlier to testify about an alleged robbery at the Rio Olympics that Brazilian police said was made up. The lawyer for a third U.S. swimmer said he would make a $10,800 payment and leave Brazil later in the day.
The drama surrounding the alleged robbery of American swimmers – and their ever-changing descriptions of it – has shocked and deeply angered Brazilians, who said it cast a false negative shadow on their city and their Olympics at a time the country is eager to prove it can host the games safely.
The story has also dominated Olympic headlines, overshadowing the worthy accomplishments of athletes who trained for years just to get to Rio and set records during their performances. The saga was an enormous embarrassment for the U.S. Olympic team, which has dominated in the medal count.
The rapid-fire developments early today came hours after police announced that Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates had not been held at gunpoint after a night of partying, as Lochte claimed.
Instead, Brazilian police said the men, while intoxicated, vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.
"No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed," Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso told a news conference.
Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger "were heard only as witnesses. This has to be made very, very clear," lawyer Sergio Riera told The Associated Press. "They did not make any untruthful testimony. They did not lie in their statements."
A lawyer for another swimmer, James Feigen, said early today that the athlete reached an agreement with a judge in which he planned to donate 35,000 Brazilian reals ($10,800) to an "institution" and leave the country later in the day.
Atty. Breno Melaragno said under the agreement, Feigen will make the donation, get his passport back and depart.