19 Aug 2016

US swimmers lied about robbery - Brazilian police

10:41 am on 19 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics - Four US Olympic swimmers who said they had been robbed in Rio de Janeiro were lying, and instead had vandalised a petrol station, Brazilian police say

US Olympic swimmers James Feigen, Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger.

US Olympic swimmers James Feigen, Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger. Photo: AFP

Rio de Janeiro civil police chief Fernando Veloso told reporters one or more of the men had vandalised part of a petrol station and then offered to pay for the damage.

The Americans paid and left after armed security guards intervened, he said.

One guard had justifiably drawn his gun after one of the swimmers began behaving erratically, Mr Veloso added.

It emerged gold medallist Ryan Lochte had already returned to the US on Monday before a judge ordered the four's passports be seized.

Fellow Swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were prevented from leaving at Rio de Janeiro airport on Wednesday night, and have since been questioned by police. Teammate James Feigen also remained in Brazil and said he was co-operating with the authorities.

Brazilian television channel GloboNews reported Brazilian police had recommended prosecutors bring charges against Lochte and Feigen for falsely reporting a crime.

The charge did not carry any prison time, Mr Veloso said.

The swimmers, who have repeatedly changed their accounts of what happened, could "in theory" face charges of giving false testimony and vandalism, Mr Veloso said.

Mr Lochte was "very angry because he was intoxicated" during the incident, he said.

The people of Rio were unhappy to see the reputation of their city damaged, Mr Veloso said.

"We are dealing with important public figures who influence others and should know how to comport themselves ... An apology would be welcomed."

Earlier, a Rio Olympics 2016 spokesman tried to make light of the case.

"These kids tried to have fun, they tried to represent their country to the best of their abilities," Mario Andrada told reporters.

"They competed under gigantic pressure. Let's give these kids a break. Sometime you take actions that you later regret.

"They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on."

Lochte is one of the most successful swimmers in history, with 12 Olympic medals, and he once had his own reality television show in the US. In Rio, he swam in two events, winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay along with Conger.

Feigen won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Bentz competed in the 4x200m preliminaries, but not the final. He still received a gold medal after the US team's win.

- BBC/Reuters