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Brazil police: Gas station video proves swimmers were vandals, not robbery victims

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian authorities say Ryan Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers were never robbed, and that surveillance video shows them vandalizing a gas station after a night of partying.

“The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members,” United State Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement. “We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States.

“On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence.

“With three days remaining in the Olympic Games, our primary focus will remain on supporting the athletes who are still competing and celebrating the achievements of those who have finished.”

Brazil’s Globo media group has released footage that shows Lochte, James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz at the gas station in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca neighborhood early Sunday when the athletes said they were robbed at gunpoint by men in police uniforms.

One of the American Olympic swimmers confirmed the account that the surveillance video showed that the swimmers were committing acts of vandalism at a gas station when confronted by security guards, Brazilian police said.

The footage shows a man in the act of urinating in a side alley at the gas station and being confronted by gas station staff.

Daily newspaper O Globo cited the station’s owner as saying the athletes had thrown stones at the business and torn one of its signs before urinating in the street.

“They stopped next to the gas station, and urinated outside right next to the gas station. We even have images of one of the athlete’s butts, as he is pulling up his pants,” said the owner, who the newspaper said chose to remain unnamed.

A police source said the athletes, who had been drinking, had torn a sign at the gas station and vandalized it.

Lochte was confrontational with security guards after they stopped him and three other American swimmers from vandalizing a gas station because he was “very angry because he was intoxicated,” said Fernando Veloso, chief of civil police in Rio de Janeiro.

A firearm was pointed at the American swimmers by one of the security guards at a vandalized gas station in order to control them, Brazilian police said. It is not being deemed an excessive use of force.

The four swimmers reached an agreement with the gas station manager and paid for the damages before leaving, the New York Times reports.

Civil Police chief Fernando Veloso said at a news conference about four American swimmers: “In theory, one or all of them might be charged for false communication of a crime and for damaging private assets, the gas station. I’m not saying that they are charged right now because of that. We have to finalize the investigation and in theory that could be the case. This is not really a — this kind of crime will not lead to their arrest.”

Civil police in Rio de Janeiro say Feigen has not been interviewed. Bentz and Conger are giving their statements to police Thursday.

 

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