Five-Ring Circus

Brazilian Authorities Are Starting to Doubt That Ryan Lochte Was Robbed at Gunpoint

Ryan Lochte of the United States attends a press conference in the Main Press Center on Day 7 of the Rio Olympics on Aug. 12 in Rio de Janeiro.

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

On Wednesday, a Brazilian judge ordered Ryan Lochte and fellow American swimmer James Feigen to stay in the country while police investigate the U.S. Olympian’s claim that he was robbed at gunpoint. The Associated Press first reported the judge’s order.

As Slate’s Daniel Politi wrote over the weekend, Lochte said he and three other U.S. swimmers were held up early Sunday morning. The International Olympic Committee initially denied the claim, “calling it absolutely not true,” before walking that back, with a spokesman saying its original denial was “not correct.” Now, Brazilian authorities are inching back toward disbelief, raising questions about Lochte’s account of the robbery and his behavior thereafter.

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Here’s how Lochte described the incident in a Monday interview with NBC:

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. 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.

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But according to the Associated Press, Brazilian police officials say evidence of the robbery is “scant.” Lochte’s group, which included Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger “did not call police,” and “officers began investigating once they saw media reports in which Lochte’s mother spoke about the robbery.” The AP adds:

Police interviewed Lochte and one other swimmer, who said they had been intoxicated and could not remember what type and color of taxi they rode in or where the robbery happened, the police official said. The swimmers also could not say what time the events occurred.

According to the AP’s report, “a police official with knowledge of the investigation” said authorities “cannot find their taxi driver or witnesses.”

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The New York Times reports that the Brazilian judge who ordered Lochte and Feigen to stay in the country issued a statement in which he describes video footage of the swimmers returning to the Olympic Village. “You can see the supposed victims arriving without signs of being physically or psychologically shaken, even joking amongst themselves,” said Judge Keyla Blanc de Cnop.

Lochte’s lawyer Jeff Ostrow told the AP the robbery definitely happened “the way Lochte described it.” Lochte explained to USA Today on Tuesday that the group didn’t initially alert the U.S. Olympic Committee about the robbery “because we were afraid we’d get in trouble.”

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According to ESPN, Lochte returned to the U.S. on Tuesday. Feigen’s current location is not clear.

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The U.S. Olympic Committee released the following statement Wednesday:

Local police arrived at the Olympic Village this a.m. and asked to meet with Ryan Lochte and James Feigen and collect their passports in order to secure further testimony from the athletes.

The swim team moved out of the village after their competition ended, so we were not able to make the athletes available.

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Additionally, as part of our standard security protocol, we do not make athlete travel plans public and therefore cannot confirm the athletes’ current location.

We will continue to cooperate with Brazilian authorities.

Though Lochte tweeted about the robbery on Aug. 14, he has not discussed it further on his Twitter account. As of Wednesday morning, this was his most recent tweet:

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Read more of Slate’s Olympics coverage.

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