Friday, 19 August 2016

Ryan Lochte 'robbery' case: US Olympic committee apologizes to police for swimmers' lies

The United States Olympic Committee has apologized for what it called the unacceptable behaviour of four US swimmers who falsely said they had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Police questioned three of the gold medal winners and say "they were not victims of the crimes they claimed".

Ryan Lochte had initially said he and 3 other US swimmers James Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were robbed at gunpoint when they were returning by taxi from a club. But Rio's civil police head Fernando Veloso refuted the claims, saying the 4 Olympic gold medalists had not been robbed.

"No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,'' he said.

He told reporters that one or more of the athletes had instead vandalized a toilet in a petrol station and then offered to pay for the damage. The Americans paid and left after armed security guards intervened, he said.

According to the police chief, one guard had justifiably drawn his gun out after one of the swimmers began behaving erratically.

The United States Olympic Committee, after agreeing with The Rio Police version of events, rather than Swimmer Ryan Lochte's continual stance that he was robbed, has issued an apology for the incident.
“As we understand it, the four athletes (Bentz, Conger, Feigen and Ryan Lochte) left France House early in the morning of August 14 in a taxi headed to the Olympic Village,” the USOC statement said. “They stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, where one of the athletes committed an act of vandalism. An argument ensued between the athletes and two armed gas station security staff, who displayed their weapons, ordered the athletes from their vehicle and demanded the athletes provide a monetary payment. Once the security officials received money from the athletes, the athletes were allowed to leave.” 
"The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members. We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence."

USA Swimming’s executive director Chuck Weigus also released a statement on Thursday, attacking “lapses in judgement” on the part of the swimmers.
“The last five days have been difficult for our USA Swimming and United States Olympic families, While we are thankful our athletes are safe we do not condone the lapses in judgement and conduct that led us to this point,” said Weigus in a statement. It is not representative of what is expected as Olympians, as Americans, as swimmers and as individuals. This drawing attention away from Team USA”s incredible accomplishments in the water and by other athletes across the Olympic Games is upsetting.” 
While it is possible that criminal charges might be sought against one or more of the athletes, it is unlikely at this point, Civil Police chief Fernando Veloso said.

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