US apologizes over fake robbery story in Rio
The US Olympic Committee (USOC) has apologized to Brazil after four US swimmers retracted their fabricated story about being mugged in Rio de Janeiro.
The apology was made on Thursday after the departure of Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, who were among four American swimmers shown to have lied about being stopped by gunmen posing as police in the early hours of Sunday.
The swimmers flew home on Thursday after a local crowd jeered them, calling them “liars” and “fakes.”
“We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence,” USOC chief Scott Blackmun said in a statement.
Brazilian police said the athletes were actually drunk and had a fight with security guards after vandalizing a gas station bathroom in Rio.
Apart from Conger and Bentz, the incident involved gold medalist Ryan Lochte, one of America’s most decorated swimmers, and Jimmy Feigen, who also won a gold medal in Rio.
The USOC said Lochte returned to the US on Monday. Feigen modified his police statement on Thursday and agreed to pay $11,000 to a Brazilian charity in the hope of securing the release of his passport and avoiding prosecution.
Security video released by police shows the swimmers in an argument with staff at the Shell service station. The video, broadcast on Brazilian TV, showed armed security guards forcing three of the swimmers to sit on the ground with their hands in the air.
Rio’s police chief denounced the story on Thursday. “There was no robbery as the swimmers described it,” civil police chief Fernando Veloso told a news conference.
Veloso said police investigations had shown that the swimmers had caused damage in the bathroom, adding that they then handed over a total of $51 in compensation.