US swimmers were not robbed, Rio police say

Brazilian authorities said Thursday four US Olympic swimmers were not robbed in Rio de Janeiro as they originally claimed.

Ryan Lochte and three team-mates - James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz - had previously 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 Fernando Veloso, head of the civil police in Rio, has been quoted in media telling a news conference: "There was no robbery as the way it was reported or claimed by the athletes."

Earlier Thursday 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," as their story continued to unravel.

Veloso confirmed the swimmers damaged the bathroom and were detained before settling the matter by paying cash.

However, the police also confirmed that a security guard had drawn a gun during the altercation.

CCTV pictures now published online appear to disprove the claim a robbery took place.

Rio local organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said at the International Olympic Committee daily briefing 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," he said.

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

He added later: "Maybe the Rio police have a different feeling than I do."

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.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said he could not talk specifically on the swimmers' case because of privacy concerns and noted there are trained consular officers in Rio to assist Americans.

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 - 23:18
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