U.S.swimmers Rio flight amid robbery probe.
stopped two U.S. Olympic swimmers from boarding a flight home on
Wednesday to question them about how they and two team mates were robbed
at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro at the
weekend, after a judge raised
doubts over their accounts.
third swimmer, James Feigen, is in contact with Brazilian authorities
and plans to make further statements to them on Thursday, said a
spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).
police also want to question U.S. gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte,
one of swimming’s most decorated Olympians, but he had already flown
home to the United States on Monday, a police spokesman said.
four swimmers have said they were robbed by gunmen while returning to
the Athletes’ Village in a taxi in the early hours of Sunday after a
party – an incident that stoked fears for the safety of athletes and
visitors at South America’s first Games.
Rio Olympics have been dogged by a series of security scares, including
the robbery of two visiting government ministers, a mugger being shot
dead outside the opening ceremony and stray bullets being fired into the
The Guardian newspaper reported that a British team member had been held
up at gunpoint while enjoying a night out in Rio in the early hours of
Tuesday. The person was not seriously hurt, the newspaper added.
in the case of the four swimmers, police sources have said
investigators have not found any evidence so far to back up their
Television images showed
U.S. Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger walking into a police
office at the airport to give testimony. A spokesman for the U.S.
Olympic Committee (USOC) confirmed the two men were taken from their
“We can confirm that Jack
Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United
States by Brazilian authorities,” said Patrick Sandusky, the USOC
were released by local authorities with the understanding that they
would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday.”
on Wednesday, a judge had ordered police to seize the passports of
Lochte and Feigen to prevent them leaving the country, apparently
unaware that Lochte had already left.
None of the swimmers face charges, the source said.
Police have taken the passports of Bentz and Conger pending their testimony, O Globo newspaper said on its web site.
magazine reported that Lochte was spotted at an airport in North
Carolina on Wednesday with his girlfriend, Kayla Rae Reid, a Playboy
model. Reuters could not verify this.
Lochte’s attorney did not return calls for comment.
sources said the judge would consider whether to ask Lochte to return
to Brazil to give testimony or allow him to do so in the United States.
He had already given testimony to Brazilian police before leaving the
On Sunday, Lochte told U.S.
media the robbers had carried police badges when they pulled the taxi
over. They ordered them to drop to the ground and demanded their wallets
and belongings, he said, adding he had initially tried to resist.
“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 told NBC. “He took our money, he took my wallet
— he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
a fresh interview with NBC that has yet to be aired, Lochte had
slightly modified an aspect of his story, Today Show host Matt Lauer
Instead of being pulled over
by the men, Lochte said the swimmers stopped at a gas station to go to
the bathroom when the robbers showed up. He also said a gun was not put
to his head but was pointed in his direction.
“I think he feels it was more of a traumatic mischaracterization,” said Lauer.
sources have told Reuters in recent days they have been unable to find
the taxi driver or to corroborate any testimony provided by the
swimmers. On Wednesday, police issued an appeal for the taxi driver to
The judicial sources
said the judge in her ruling pointed to an inconsistency between Lochte,
who had said only one man was involved in the robbery, and his team
mate, who testified that several men had robbed them.
judge also noted that video footage of the swimmers showed them
returning to the Athletes Village joking with one another and in
possession of many of their belongings, including cellular phones and
highlighted that some of the swimmers testified to leaving a party at
the French Olympic delegation just after 4 a.m. but security cameras
showed them arriving at the Athletes Village at around 7 a.m., the
sources said. That journey would normally only take around 30 minutes at
that hour of day.
On his official
Twitter account, Lochte said: “My hair is going back to its normal
color tomorrow”, in what appeared to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to
changing his appearance. The swimmer competed in Rio with his hair dyed