Friday 28 October 2016

Lochte back in US, says father, as Rio judge orders swimmers' passports held

Published 17/08/2016 | 16:16

Ryan Lochte claims he was robbed at gunpoint
Ryan Lochte claims he was robbed at gunpoint

The father of swimmer Ryan Lochte has said his gold medal-winning son arrived back in the US before a Brazilian judge ordered that the passports of Lochte and team-mate Jimmy Feigen be seized as authorities investigate their claim they were robbed at gunpoint during the Rio Olympics.

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Steve Lochte, speaking from his Florida home, said his son called him on Tuesday after arriving in the US.

The 32-year-old swimmer was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one that he said was stolen from him in the robbery.

Feigen's whereabouts could not immediately be confirmed.

The office of Judge Keyla Blank confirmed the order on Wednesday in a statement.

"I'm just happy he's safe," Steve Lochte said, referring to his son.

"It was an unfortunate experience for him and the other three. I don't know what all the controversy is. They were basically taken out of the taxi and robbed.

"The main thing is he's very lucky that he's safe and that all they got was his cash and wallet."

He said his son's Olympic credentials and mobile phone were not taken during the incident early on Sunday morning.

He added that he was sure his son had his passport or he would not have been allowed to board a plane.

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) said police went to the athletes' village on Wednesday morning to try to collect the passports, but the swim team had already moved out.

"We will continue to co-operate with Brazilian authorities," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

The US State Department issued a statement on Wednesday encouraging those involved to co-operate with Brazilian law enforcement.

Lochte and three of his team-mates said they were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi on Sunday morning as they returned to the athletes' village from a party, several hours after the last Olympic swimming events were held.

Police have found little evidence so far to support their accounts, and say the swimmers were unable to provide key details in police interviews.

"Why would anybody fabricate anything?" Steve Lochte said. "It's just ridiculous."

A police official with knowledge of the investigation told the Associated Press that police cannot find their taxi driver or witnesses.

Jeff Ostrow, a USA Swimming spokesman and Ryan Lochte's lawyer, has said there is no question the robbery occurred.

Travelling with him and 26-year-old Feigen were 21-year-old Gunnar Bentz and 20-year-old Jack Conger.

Lochte swam in two events at the Rio Games, winning gold in the 4x200-metre freestyle relay. He is a 12-time Olympic medallist.

The group did not call police, authorities said, and officers began investigating once they saw media reports in which Lochte's mother spoke about the robbery.

Police interviewed Lochte and one other swimmer, who said they had been intoxicated and could not remember what type and colour 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.

Later in the day, Lochte described the incident to NBC's Today show .

"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," Lochte said.

"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 - he left my cellphone, he left my credentials."

Word of the robbery initially created confusion between Olympic and US officials.

An International Olympic Committee spokesman at first said reports of the robbery were "absolutely not true", then reversed himself, apologised and said he was relying on initial information from USOC which was wrong.

Lochte told USA Today that he and his team-mates did not initially tell the US Olympic officials about the robbery "because we were afraid we'd get in trouble".


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