Six-time gold medalist Ryan Lochte has finally admitted to being robbed at gunpoint with three other American swimmers early Sunday morning. This was according to the United States Olympic Committee, who earlier on Sunday, said this was untrue.
“Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings,” a spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee said. “All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”
Lochte told NBC News that one of the men put a cocked gun to his head.
“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 said. “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.”
Violent crime was a top concern in the lead-up to the Rio Games, as Brazil’s economic crisis deepened, pushing up unemployment and poverty rates.
The Rio state government deployed a security force of 85,000 for the Olympics. The streets surrounding the Olympic Park and athletes’ village sometimes look like military compounds, with jeeps filled with armed soldiers.
Nonetheless, on the night of the opening ceremony, the chief of security was mugged at knife-point. Two coaches for Australia’s rowing team were attacked and robbed in the Ipanema neighborhood. An Olympic security officer was killed in a dangerous neighborhood. Multiple bullets have landed in the equestrian venue, and a bus carrying members of the news media was attacked, its windows shattered.
The American swimmers robbed on Sunday were leaving a party at Club France, the French hospitality house established during the Rio Games in the upscale Lagoa neighborhood, the U.S. Olympics spokesman said.
“I think they’re all shaken up,” Ileana Lochte, the swimmer’s mother, told USA Today. “They just took their wallets and basically that was it.”
Bentz and Conger participated in the heats of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, though not the final. Feigen did the same in the 4×100-meter relay.
Lochte won a gold medal in the 4×200-meter freestyle and finished fifth in the 200-meter individual medley, his only individual event. He had initially denied reports of the robbery through the Olympic Committee.
Conflicting accounts of the incident had swirled on Sunday morning, after a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said reports of the incident were “absolutely not true,” citing information that had been provided by the United States committee.
After Ms. Lochte’s statements that her son had indeed been robbed, the International Olympic Committee spokesman said he had simply passed along information from the American Olympic officials. “They said they spoke to Lochte, and he said it wasn’t true,” the spokesman said. “I guess that may change.”
Mr. Lochte’s Twitter feed was silent on the matter; his last post was on Saturday, a picture of him with the snowboarder Shaun White. He did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
David Marsh, Mr. Lochte’s coach, referred inquiries to the United States swimming federation, which did not immediately reply to request for comment.
The civil police in the state of Rio said that “investigations are underway about the robbery suffered by American Olympic swimmers.”