US swimmers ‘fabricated’ robbery story, damaged gas station – Brazilian police

Ryan Lochte © Michael Dalder
US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte “fabricated” a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, a Brazilian police official has said. A surveillance video shows that the swimmer and his teammates damaged a suburban gas station.

The incident actually involved the US Olympians breaking down a bathroom door at a gas station, and paying for the damages.  

“There was no robbery,” the police spokesman told reporters at the news conference on Thursday afternoon. While the investigation is still ongoing, police have determined that “acts of vandalism were perpetrated by one or more of the athletes,” breaking mirrors and other fixtures inside the gas station bathroom.

The security guard did not speak English, the athletes did not speak Portuguese, so a customer offered to translate. In the end, the athletes paid “100 reals (around $30) and a $20 bill” in damages, and drove off in a taxi.

“There was no evidence of physical violence” towards the athletes either on the security footage or from eyewitness statements, the police said. However, a security guard did point a gun at the swimmers.

A weapon was pointed at the athletes, police chief Alexandre Braga confirmed at the news conference, “because one of them was extremely upset” and needed to be contained.

Lochte and three of his teammates – Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen – had stopped at a gas station in the Rio suburb of Barra da Tijuca on Sunday morning. The outside bathroom was locked, and the swimmers “pushed on the door and broke it.”

The security guard reported “inappropriate behavior by four strong youths” and “tendency to continue violence.” His use of the firearm “seems justified” by the circumstances, the police said.

“One of the athletes confirmed all of these facts,” said the spokesman, but did not provide the name.

Surveillance video from inside the gas station was made public Thursday afternoon.

Lochte told NBC News on Monday that he and his teammates had stopped at a gas station in Rio, and were robbed at gunpoint on the way back to their taxi, blaming the Brazilian police.

Brazilian authorities attempted to hold the four swimmers' passports, and actually pulled Conger and Bentz off their airplane on Wednesday, as they were flying back to the US. Both men reportedly confirmed that the “robbery” account was made up, the police official said. Lochte had already left the country.

US Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky confirmed on Thursday morning that Lochte’s teammates were talking to the authorities, and had legal representation and consular aid.

The swimmers did not apologize during their deposition, but “it would be noble of them to do so,” the police spokesman said, because the citizens of Rio were harmed by their “fantasy story.”