The Brazilian authorities are at odds with the four American swimmers involved in an alleged armed robbery on Sunday morning. Earlier today, the Rio authorities forbid both Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen from leaving the country (although Lochte is already back in the U.S.). Just minutes ago, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were pulled from their flight out of the country. They are, at the time of this writing, currently speaking with Rio authorities.
According to NBC, the Rio police are unaware of Feigen’s current whereabouts. He was scheduled to fly out with Conger and Bentz, but never arrived at the terminal.
The authorities seem to be suspicious of Lochte’s story of the robbery, but, in an interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer earlier today, Lochte stuck to his version of the events. Lauer noted that when Lochte spoke to him, his account was a little softer around the edges, but he stood by his earlier testimony.
One difference between Lochte’s interview with NBC’s Billy Bush and his conversation with Lauer tonight, Lauer highlighted, was that rather than getting pulled over, Lochte said today that the four tried to get into a taxi, but the driver wouldn’t let them. When they told taxi driver to move, he didn’t, and that’s when two men approached the car and told them to get on the ground. The other swimmers did, but Lochte didn’t.
Another difference is that when Lochte talked to Bush, he said that the assailant put gun to his forehead. However, this time, Lochte said that the man pointed the gun in his direction.
Lauer thinks that the initial story was hyperbolic rather than being untrue.
Lauer also asked Lochte directly whether the swimmers were engaged in any type of embarrassing or illegal behavior, and if that had spurred them to make up the robbery story. Lochte strongly denied the accusation.
According to Lauer, Lochte said “We wouldn’t make a story up. We’re victims in this.”
Lochte then reiterated that the four athletes originally didn’t want to tell the police or the U.S. Olympic Committee about the incident because they were worried that they would get in trouble with the USOC or the IOC for partying. However, according to Lochte, when they realized that they hadn’t broken any rules, they told the USOC.
As for his interactions with the Rio police, Lochte told Lauer that nobody in law enforcement asked him to stay around for questioning. He told police he was reachable and he would cooperate. Lauer said that Lochte called the conversation “friendly, casual, and vague,” and said it was less intense than a questioning Lochte recently went through in the U.S. regarding a home robbery.
Lochte also said that he was planning on leaving the city on Wednesday even before the incident occurred. The USOC systematically keeps athletes’ travel plans private.