US swimmers suspected of false testimony, Olympic spokesman says

Brazilian authorities suspect four US Olympic swimmers have given "false testimony" about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, local Olympic organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said Thursday.

His comments came after media reports said one of the swimmers was involved in a fight on the night in question.

US broadcaster ABC quoted a Brazilian police source as saying: "One of the swimmers was seen on CCTV footage breaking down the door to the bathroom at the gas station and fighting with a security guard."

The four swimmers, Ryan Lochte, James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, said 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.

Andrada said he hadn't seen the video of the incident, but he showed understanding for the US swimmers.

"They trained for at least four years. They competed under gigantic pressure.

"Let's give these kids a break," he said. "They had fun, they made a mistake, that's part of life. Life goes on."

"Maybe the Rio police have a different feeling than I do," he added later.

The four 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.

On Wednesday Judge Keyla Blanc approved a judicial order preventing Conger and Bentz leaving Brazil. They were taken off a flight and briefly detained.

The pair, along with Feigen, are to provide testimony to the authorities regarding the incident.

Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medallist, was also ordered to remain in the country but had already returned to the US.

Andrada said conclusions about overall security in Rio during the Games would have to wait "until further investigations, especially in the case of the American athletes."

An unnamed British athlete was robbed in Rio during the Games, the British Olympic Association confirmed Thursday. Last week, Belgian judoka Dirk Van Tichelt was hit in the face while chasing down a phone thief.

Last update: Thu, 18/08/2016 - 18:02
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