Ryan Lochte (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - US
Olympic authorities apologised to Brazil on Thursday as two US swimmers
were allowed to go home having retracted a fabricated story about being
mugged in Rio.
A third American swimmer who is still in Brazil can leave the country
after he paid a donation to an "institution" of nearly $11 000, US
broadcaster NBC reported his lawyer as saying on Friday.
Four US swimmers, including six gold medal hero Ryan Lochte, have
been at the centre of a media storm since claiming they were held up at
gunpoint after leaving a party in the early hours of Sunday.
"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," US Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a
Blackmun spoke after Brazilian police let Gunnar Bentz and Jack
Conger leave the country. "Their passports have been released and they
recently departed Rio," he said.
A third swimmer, James Feigen, gave police a "revised statement," Blackmun said.
He agreed to a deal in which he would make a hefty donation to an
unspecified group in exchange for permission to leave, NBC said.
"After a long deliberation, this agreement was reached... he will
donate 35 000 real ($10 800) to an institute, and with that the case is
resolved," the broadcaster cited Feigen's lawyer Breno Melaragno as
"After this donation is done, his passport will be given back to him, and he will be free to return home."
Lochte was already back in the United States when the scandal erupted.
Lochte said on Sunday that the four had been victims of a robbery by at least one armed assailant posing as a Rio policeman.
The claim forced Brazil's Olympics organisers into an apology for the supposed security lapse.
Amid growing doubts, however, a Brazilian judge issued an order
Wednesday that all four swimmers be kept in Brazil while the story was
Brazilian police said Thursday the athletes were drunk and got into
an altercation with security staff after vandalizing a gas station
bathroom during a night on the town.
Blackmun indicated that the athletes, questioned by police Thursday, had confirmed the police version.
"They stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, where one of the
athletes committed an act of vandalism," the US 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."
Rio de Janeiro's police chief Fernando Veloso called on the athletes to apologise.
He said CCTV footage at the gas station showed a security official
pulling his weapon to restrain a drunk and angry Lochte and his
teammates because they tried to leave after damaging the bathroom.
"There was no robbery of the kind reported by the athletes," Veloso told a press conference.
"The images do not show any kind of violence against them."
He said police believed the swimmers handed over the equivalent of about $50 in cash to pay for the damage before leaving.
Veloso said it was still not decided what charges, if any, would be brought against the swimmers.
"In theory, they could end up facing charges of falsely reporting a
crime and damage to property," he said. Neither offense is punishable by
"It would be noble and dignified of them to apologise. The only thing they told the truth about is that they were drunk."
Rio 2016 Olympics chief spokesperson Mario Andrada, who had apologised
to the athletes after the supposed robbery, was in forgiving mood on
"Let's give these kids a break," Andrada told a news conference.
"These kids were trying to have fun... They made a mistake, it is part
Lochte, one of the
most visible US faces at the Olympics, said an assailant put a gun to
his forehead after the swimmers' taxi was pulled over.
"The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, 'Get down,'" Lochte recounted.
"He took our money, he took my wallet - he left my cell phone, he left my credentials."
His report caused the Olympic authorities huge embarrassment and
overshadowed sporting action in the second week of South America's first
It followed numerous confirmed incidents of theft from Olympic athletes and media covering the Games.
Brazil has deployed 85 000 police and soldiers to secure the Olympics.
The Lochte affair coincided with the arrest in Rio of International
Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey on allegations of taking part in
a black market ticket ring.
Hickey fell ill during his arrest on Wednesday. He left hospital on Thursday in a black car following a police car.
He was expected to face interrogation.