Jack Conger (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - Brazilian
authorities let two US swimmers leave Rio on Thursday after they
retracted a claim to have been victims of a dramatic mugging during the
Olympic Games, officials said.
Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were given back their confiscated
passports and "recently departed Rio," US Olympic Committee CEO Scott
Blackmun said in a statement.
The US Olympic chief also offered an apology "to our hosts in Rio and
the people of Brazil," saying the swimmers' behavior "is not
acceptable" and that "potential consequences" would be decided later.
A third swimmer, James Feigen, has also given police "a revised
statement" about the apparently invented mugging story "with the hope of
securing the release of his passport as soon as possible," Blackmun
The fourth, swimming superstar Ryan Lochte, was already back in the
United States when the scandal erupted. A Brazilian judge issued an
order Wednesday for all four swimmers to be kept in Brazil while their
story was probed.
Lochte said last Sunday that the four were victims of a robbery by at
least one armed assailant posing as a Rio policeman. The claim caused a
major stir at the Olympics and forced Brazilian authorities into an
apology for the supposed security lapse.
However, Brazilian police said on Thursday that what really happened was
the athletes were drunk and got into an altercation with security staff
after vandalising a gas station where they stopped in a taxi to use the
Blackmun indicated that the athletes questioned by police on Thursday
had recanted and confirmed the police version of the incident.
"They stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, where one of the
athletes committed an act of vandalism," the statement said.
"An argument ensued between the athletes and two armed gas station
security staff, who displayed their weapons, ordered the athletes from
their vehicle and demanded the athletes provide a monetary payment. Once
the security officials received money from the athletes, the athletes
were allowed to leave."