Two US swimmers removed from flight in Rio amid robbery investigation

Brazilian police removed two US swimmers from their flight from Rio de Janeiro back to the United States, the US Olympic Committee said late Wednesday, as questions were raised about the athletes' claim to have been robbed at gunpoint.

Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were taken off the flight late Wednesday and briefly detained by authorities, Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

Brazilian authorities had earlier attempted to question swimmers Ryan Lochte, a 12-time medallist, and James Feigen, but Lochte had already returned home. Feigen remains in Brazil.

Conger and Bentz would "continue their discussions about the incident" with Brazilian police on Thursday, Sandusky said.

The four Olympians alleged they were riding in a taxi back to the Olympic village from a party early Sunday when men posing as police pulled them over and robbed them at gunpoint.

But the swimmers' contradictory accounts and evidence gathered by police have cast doubts on the claim, Brazilian authorities said.

Judge Keyla Blanc approved a judicial order preventing Conger and Bentz leaving the country due to discrepancies in their testimony and the fact the swimmers did not appear shaken but rather light-hearted when seen on Olympic village security cameras after the incident.

Lochte rejected speculation that crime had been made up.

"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," NBC News quoted Lochte as saying in an interview.

"We're victims in this and we're happy that we're safe," he said.

NBC noted that Lochte's version of events had changed slightly over the course of the week.

He initially said he had been forced to the ground with a gun pressed to his head. But in the interview with the broadcaster he said only that a gun was pointed in his general direction.

Lochte also said in the interview that the robbery had taken place as the taxi was parked at a gas station. Earlier, he said the assailants had pulled their vehicle over while it was on the road.

The swimmers have also faced questions about why they delayed reporting the crime to police. US media report that the incident only came to the attention of police when Lochte's mother began speaking about it.

Lochte told USA Today that he and his three teammates did not initially say anything because "because we were afraid we'd get in trouble."

Last update: Thu, 18/08/2016 - 10:26

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