Two American swimmers who were with teammate Ryan Lochte during an incident in which they say they were robbed at gunpoint have been removed by Brazilian authorities from their flight out of the country, the USOC says.
Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were brought off their plane after a Brazilian judge earlier Wednesday ordered that the passports of Lochte and another U.S. teammate, Jimmy Feigen, be seized, confining them to the country as authorities investigate their robbery allegations, though Lochte says he has returned to the U.S.
Feigen remained in Brazil on Wednesday and told USA Today Sports he was “just trying to give Brazil what they need or what they want and get out of here.”
“It’s a hassle,” Feigen said. “But I’m safe, everything’s fine. Until this goes in a direction where I can see it, I can’t comment.”
Lochte in U.S. as Rio judge orders passports held
Ryan Lochte is reportedly back in the U.S. as a Brazilian judge ordered that his passport — and that of American swimmer James Feigen — be seized.
Lochte: ‘We were afraid we’d get in trouble’
Ryan Lochte told USA Today Sports on Tuesday that he did not initially tell the U.S. Olympic Committee he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint in a Rio taxi for fear “we’d get in trouble.”
Lochte robbed at gunpoint in harrowing holdup
Ryan Lochte was robbed early Sunday morning along with three of his U.S. swimming teammates in Rio by people posing as armed police.
NBC spoke with Lochte Wednesday night and reported that Lochte said he had left Rio and already returned home as he had been scheduled to.
Lochte backtracked on his initial comments to the network made Sunday, saying the barrel of the gun he had said was placed to his forehead was instead pointed in his direction.
Lochte said when he was interviewed by police about the incident that no one had suggested he needed to stay in Brazil nor had any officials expressed doubts over his account of the robbery, NBC reported.
The police interview was very friendly and casual, and much less intense than one he went through with police in the U.S. when he reported a home burglary, he said.
Lochte’s father had told The Associated Press by phone that his gold-medal-winning son called him Tuesday after arriving back in the United States and told him he was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one that he said was stolen during the robbery.
“I’m just happy he’s safe,” Steve Lochte said. “It was an unfortunate experience for him and the other three. I don’t know what all the controversy is. They were basically taken out of the taxi and robbed. The main thing is he’s very lucky that he’s safe and that all they got was his cash and wallet.”
The office of Judge Keyla Blank confirmed the order to seize their passports in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. Olympic Committee said police went to the athletes village Wednesday morning to try to collect the passports, but the swim team had already moved out. Spokesman Patrick Sandusky declined to say whether Lochte and Feigen were still in the country.
“As part of our standard security protocol, we do not make athlete travel plans public and therefore cannot confirm the athletes’ current location,” Sandusky said. “We will continue to cooperate with Brazilian authorities.”
The U.S. State Department issued a statement Wednesday encouraging those involved to cooperate with Brazilian law enforcement.
The four U.S. swimmers say they were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi Sunday morning as they returned to the athletes village from a party, several hours after the last Olympic swimming events were held.
Police say they have found little evidence to support their accounts and say the swimmers were unable to provide key details in police interviews.
“Why would anybody fabricate anything?” Steve Lochte said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
A police official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that police cannot find their taxi driver or witnesses to the robbery. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Lochte’s attorney, Jeff Ostrow, has said there is no question the robbery happened.
“My opinion is they are trying to use Ryan’s situation to use as a scapegoat to show that things down there are not as bad as it looks,” Ostrow told ESPN on Wednesday. “These types of things have happened with other people, like the New Zealand athlete, but they don’t take half the interest they do with Ryan.
“If they don’t like the level of the detail that they’ve gotten from the statement … then call me and we can give them more. Ryan is the victim here. You take one of the Brazilian authorities and put a gun to their head on a random street in America in the middle of the night and I guarantee they wouldn’t be absolutely accurate with all the details.
“They can do and say whatever they want down there. The fact remains they were robbed at gunpoint.”