A bizarre case is unfolding at the Rio Olympics as police raise doubts over the stories of four US swimmers who claimed they were robbed at gunpoint near the Olympic Village.
Two swimmers were pulled off a plane back to America, after police said they want to question them over their description of the incident in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Olympians Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were taken off the plane at Rio airport after saying they were robbed and lost $400 when travelling in taxi on the way back to the Olympic village following a party.
But there are now reports that footage shows the swimmers “fighting” with security guards at a gas station.
Bentz and Conger, who both won gold medals in the 4×200 metres freestyle relay, claimed their taxi, which also had swimmers James Feigen and Ryan Lochte in it, was stopped by men posing as armed police, the Press Association reported.
But that story appears to be starting to unravel, as CCTV footage has emerged showing Feigen and Lochte returning to the village much later than they claimed, and Lochte’s wallet, which was supposed to have been stolen, was recorded passing through the village security check.
There are no charges facing the men and Lochte’s lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, has said there is no question that the robbery happened.
But these details, which authorities are probing, have clearly got judges puzzled:
Brazilian Judge Keyla Blank noted that some of the swimmers said they left a party at the French Olympic delegation to head back to the Athlete's village just after 4am on Sunday. The journey should have taken about half an hour according to the judge, yet security cameras showed them arriving at the village at around 7am.
According to Reuters
, the judge said in her ruling that Lochte had said only one man was involved in the robbery, but one team mate testified that several men had robbed them.
Judge Keyla Blanc said she was confused by video footage of the swimmers after the alleged robbery, which seemed to show them laughing and joking as they returned to the village, Sky News said.
"They arrived with their psychological and physical integrity unshaken," the judge wrote.
The swimmers didn't report the alleged robbery to the police, who found out after they saw one of the athlete's mothers mention it in the media. But, oddly, the US Olympics Committee initially denied there had been a robbery, even when Lochte’s mother told the media that she had heard it directly from her son.
Sky News reported
that Olympic Village X-ray machine scans suggested some of the swimmers were still carrying belongings which they claimed had been stolen in police statements.
Lochte originally said that armed men pulled the swimmers' taxi over, but later told NBC that their car had stopped at a gas station voluntarily before the robbers approached them
He also intially told NBC that one of the alleged robbers "pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead".
"He said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever’,” Lochte told NBC. “He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
He altered this story in another interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on Wednesday night, saying that none of the men in fact put a gun to his head.
Police sources have told Reuters they haven't been able to find the taxi driver, or to verify any details provided by the swimmers.