RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian police official told The Associated Press that American swimmer Ryan Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro.
The official, who has direct knowledge of the investigation, spoke on the condition of anonymity Thursday because he was not authorized to speak about an ongoing probe.
He said that around 6 a.m. on Sunday, Lochte, along with fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, stopped at a gas station in Barra da Tijuca, a suburb of Rio where many Olympic venues are located. One of the swimmers tried but failed to open the door of an outside bathroom.
A few of the swimmers then pushed on the door and broke it. A security guard appeared and confronted them, the official said.
The official says the guard was armed with a pistol, but he never took it out or pointed it at the swimmers.
According to the official, the gas station manager then arrived. Using a customer to translate, the manager asked the swimmers to pay for the broken door. After a discussion, they did pay him an unknown amount of money and then left.
The official says that swimmers Conger and Bentz, who were pulled off a plane going back to the United States late Wednesday, told police that the robbery story had been fabricated.
Lochte first lied about the robbery to his mother, Ileana Lochte, who spoke with reporters, the police official said. That led to news coverage of the incident and prompted police attention.
A police news conference was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Lochte’s lawyer, agent and father did not immediately return messages seeking comment from the AP.
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said late Thursday morning that Lochte’s teammates were scheduling a time and place to meet with authorities.
The swimmers could face punishment — probation, suspension, a fine or expulsion — under USA Swimming’s code of conduct, which prohibits dishonesty or fraud. It was not immediately clear if the organization planned to act.
Representatives from the U.S. consulate arrived at the airport shortly after the swimmers were stopped from leaving the country Wednesday night.
Brazilian authorities continued pressing the American swimmers over the ever-changing account of the robbery. Police said the swimmers were unable to provide key details in early interviews and they found little evidence to support the robbery claim. The swimmers said they had been intoxicated and could not remember what type and color of taxi they rode, where the incident happened or what time the events occurred, police said. The police official said officers grew suspicious when they reviewed security video of the swimmers returning to the athletes village and saw them wearing watches.
Authorities said that after the incident, the swimmers did not call police; officers began investigating after they saw media reports in which Lochte’s mother spoke about the incident.
Lochte told USA Today that he and his teammates didn’t initially tell U.S. Olympic officials about the robbery because “we were afraid we’d get in trouble.”
Contributing to this report were AP reporters Peter Prengaman, Chris Lehourites, Pauline Arrillaga and Renata Brito in Rio de Janeiro, and Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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