U.S. Swimmers Confirm Rio Robbery Story Was A Fabrication
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And what happened to Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three other teammates last weekend has become the focus of global attention. Lochte claimed he was robbed at gunpoint, and that made a lot of news at the time, tarnishing the image of the Rio Games. But Brazilian police now say, after an investigation, that he lied. And this morning, on Instagram, Lochte made this apology. Quote, "I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself, and for that, am sorry to my teammates." Here's NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro from Rio de Janeiro.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: To a crowded news conference, Rio's civil police chief, Fernando Veloso, said this last night, categorically...
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FERNANDO VELOSO: (Speaking Portuguese).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: "There was no robbery in the way it was reported by the athletes."
A short sentence, but one that has a lot of repercussions. Veloso says Brazil's police have investigated the matter and that Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jimmy Feigen and Jack Conger were not the victims of a crime but rather, the perpetrators of one. According to the police, the four were returning from a late-night party when they stopped at a gas station. They allegedly vandalized the bathroom. They urinated on the side of the building. And then they were stopped from leaving until the police showed up. Lochte, the police says, became belligerent, and a security guard pulled his gun. Eventually, the group paid around $50 in restitution and left. And that was that until Lochte made his alleged robbery public.
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VELOSO: (Speaking Portuguese).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Veloso is saying the swimmers are people who made a mistake under the influence of alcohol, and so an apology should be made to the people of Rio who saw their city stained by this fantasy version of events.
Lochte changed his story a few times. First, he told the press that men dressed as police robbed him and put a gun to his head after being stopped on a road. Then he flipped and said the robbery had indeed taken place at a gas station, but he insisted he was the victim of a crime. The police now say the other swimmers confirmed the police's version of events.
The U.S. Olympic Committee, in a statement last night, apologized to, quote, "our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should be rightly a celebration of excellence." It says it will review any potential consequences for the athletes after the Olympics.
Bentz and Conger have already left Brazil. Feigen, according to his lawyer, has been fined the equivalent of $10,800 for giving false testimony. The money will reportedly be given to The Reaction Institute, a sporting program for at-risk youth here. And then he, too, will also leave Brazil, ending a deeply embarrassing episode for U.S. sports.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.
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