Swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz Ordered to Stay in Brazil, Surrender Passports
Three U.S. Olympic swimmers are scheduled to speak with Brazilian authorities on Aug. 18 as their story of an alleged robbery has come into question.
Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were questioned by local authorities for nearly four hours after they were removed from a Houston-bound flight at Rio de Janeiro’s airport Wednesday evening.
Conger and Bentz’s passports were seized as investigators tried to piece together their accounts of a robbery they said occurred on their journey back to the Olympic Village after an outing at Club France, reported Brazil’s OGlobo.
Teammate Jimmy Feigen is expected to speak with authorities as well, according to Patrick Sandusky, United States Olympic Committee spokesperson.
An attorney for Conger and Bentz advised his clients to not make any statements to investigators until it is confirmed that the pair are witnesses in the case.
“They were scared. They were removed from the plane and told them they needed to be deposed in a coercive manner, which is already a legal aberration,” Sérgio Riera told OGlobo.
“The deputy insisted that they would be heard as witnesses, but with their passports being detained, we—and rightly so—have doubts that they were really being heard as witness. And so, until that is clarified, they did not provide a deposition.”
According to Lochte—who is now back in the United States—the four were robbed at gunpoint by police impersonators. He recounted the Aug. 14 events in an interview with NBC News.
“These guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and pulled us over,” he told NBC. “They pulled out their guns. They told the other swimmers to get down on the ground. They got 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—he left my cell phone, he left my credentials,” he said.
However, according to a warrant, Lochte and Feigen told different accounts of what was initially reported. In a deposition to investigators, Lochte said he was robbed of $400 by one armed robber, whereas Feigen said they were robbed by several muggers, but only was armed.
The warrant also noted that surveillance footage of the men returning to the Olympic Village shows the four in good spirits and not in a state expected of people who were just robbed.
In an interview with “Today’s” Matt Lauer, Lochte stood by his account of what happened in the early morning hours on Sunday.
“We wouldn’t make this story up, we were victims,” Lochte said, according to Lauer. “And we’re lucky and happy to be safe.