Brazil police pull US swimmers from flight home for questioning over ‘inconsistent’ robbery report

Jack Conger. © Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Brazilian police have prevented three US Olympic swimmers from boarding their flight from Rio de Janeiro in order to question them about an “inconsistent” gunpoint robbery report they filed over the weekend.

Authorities also wanted to question gold medalist Ryan Lochte, but he had already returned to the US earlier in the week, according to his attorney. On Wednesday, a Brazilian judge ordered police to seize the passports of Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz, James Feigen and Ryan Lochte, and question their descriptions of the robbery.

A spokesman for the US Olympic Committee confirmed that Bentz and Conger had been pulled from their flight, while a police source told Reuters that Feigen had also been stopped and questioned.

“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” said Patrick Sandusky, USOC spokesperson. “We are gathering further information.”

Lochte, 32, who won his sixth Olympic gold in the 4×200m freestyle at the Rio Olympic Games, was returning from a party in the French Olympic reception hall on Sunday morning, according to the USOC, with three other team members when the incident occurred.

"We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over," Lochte told NBC. "They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn't do anything wrong, so — I'm not getting down on the ground."

"And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, get down and I put my hands up, I was like 'whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials."

Yet police investigating the incident told the Associated Press that there was scant evidence to support the swimmers' account, and that the group had trouble offering police key details of the robbery.

CCTV footage indicated that the swimmers returned Sunday to the Olympic Village and passed through security with items such as their phones and watches, according to the Daily Mail. The images put into question the swimmers' version of the incident, leading Judge Keyla Blank, of the Special Court of the Fan and Major Events, to call for the athletes' passports.

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