Friday 24 January 2020

CCTV shows US swimmers fighting with garage staff

US swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz are escorted into a police station in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
US swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz are escorted into a police station in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Tom Morgan, Rio de Janeiro

Olympic swimmers with 12-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte when he claimed to have been attacked at gunpoint were hauled off a plane for questioning by Brazilian police amid claims they had destroyed a petrol station toilet and refused to pay for the damage until a security guard waved a gun at them.

Police are increasingly concerned about Lochte's account of the robbery after one member of the group was seen on CCTV fighting with petrol station staff.

"One of the swimmers was seen on CCTV footage breaking down the door to the bathroom at the gas station and fighting with a security guard," a Rio police source told American media. Another source claimed the group handed over money after the guard at the petrol station insisted they pay.

The fresh claims come after a judge failed in an order to stop Lochte leaving Brazil after concerns were raised about his evidence. Fellow Team USA members Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were stopped as they tried to board a flight out of the country on Wednesday.

Their team-mate James Feigen had also been communicating with local authorities.

Patrick Sandusky, US Olympic Committee spokesman, said: "Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained Wednesday night shortly before their flight was scheduled to depart from Rio... They were released by local authorities with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday."

Lochte (32), one of the most decorated swimmers in Games history, left the country shortly before a judge ordered the confiscation of his passport.

Brazilian police claim their investigation failed to turn up evidence confirming that he, Bentz, Conger and Feigen were robbed at gunpoint by attackers dressed as local police on the way back to the athletes' village following a party.

As the mystery surrounding the alleged attack grew, police in Rio said they had further questions for Lochte after finding "little evidence" that the robbery had taken place.

The athlete told NBC he and three team-mates were travelling back to the Olympic Village after a late-night party when their taxi was hijacked and they were robbed at gunpoint.

However, the investigation shifted after what prosecutors claim were a series of inconsistencies. Judge Keyla Blanc said the men gave contradictory accounts and security film showed them returning in high spirits with their phones and wallets visible.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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