Five-Ring Circus

Ryan Lochte’s Robbery Saga Keeps Getting More Awkward

Ryan Lochte of the United States attends a press conference in the main press center on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Brazilian authorities began raising doubts on Wednesday over the alleged robbery of Ryan Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers—a saga that got more awkward Wednesday evening when Lochte spoke to NBC’s Matt Lauer in an attempt to set the record straight, adjusting a few of the details of his original account. Even more awkward than that: Earlier in the day, a Brazilian judge ordered Lochte and teammate Jimmy Feigen to stay in the country while police investigated the robbery claim. And tonight, Brazilian police delayed a U.S.-bound flight in order to stop the other two swimmers, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, from leaving the country.

“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” said Patrick Sandusky, a U.S. Olymic Committee spokesman, according to Reuters.

The four swimmers were allegedly returning to the Olympic Village in a taxi early Sunday morning when they were robbed at gunpoint. But Brazilian officials have since cited “scant” evidence and conflicting statements from the swimmers about the timeline and details of the night. The Associated Press reported that Lochte’s group “did not call police” immediately about the incident, which “officers began investigating once they saw media reports in which Lochte’s mother spoke about the robbery.”

Lochte, who returned to the U.S. on Tuesday, reiterated most of his original story to Lauer, though he made a few tweaks. For starters, Lochte had originally said that the taxi in which the four swimmers were riding was pulled over. In an interview on Monday he said, “these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and they pulled us over.” According to Laurer, Lochte softened this detail in their interview, saying that the taxi had stopped at a gas station and the men approached the car as it was stopped. (Feigen, meanwhile, is still in Brazil, though his location is unknown.)

Lochte also walked back his assertion that one of the men put a cocked gun against his forehead. Lauer said Lochte told him that the gun was pointed his direction, not against his head, an embellishment Lauer described as a “traumatic mischaracterization.”

Lochte also clarified why he didn’t immediately report the incident to the police, telling Lauer that he thought he and the other swimmers had broken some rule by being out drinking until the wee hours of the morning. Lauer recounted that Lochte said his account to the police was “casual, friendly, and vague,” and that the police never expressed suspicion about his story.

Lauer also said he asked Lochte if the robbery story was a cover for some sort of embarrassing behavior. Lauer said Lochte dismissed the idea immediately, saying he wouldn’t make up a story like that.