Ryan Lochte (Getty Images)
Janeiro - Two top US Olympic swimmers faced new questioning
by Brazilian police Thursday after being removed from a US-bound plane over
allegations that they may have fabricated a report of an armed mugging.
Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained minutes before taking off from Rio de
Janeiro for the United States.
gold medal winners underwent a first round of questioning at the airport police
station, Rio police said in a statement Thursday.
passports of the two athletes were taken and they will be questioned again on
the case," police said.
were with star US swimmer Ryan Lochte and another squad member, James Feigen,
when they said they were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday. The report caused the
Olympic authorities huge embarrassment, highlighting security worries at an
Olympics where Brazil has deployed 85,000 police and soldiers -- double the
number used in the 2012 London Games.
Wednesday, a Brazilian judge ordered the swimmers to be detained, saying their
story contained inconsistencies.
who has already gone back to the United States, and Feigen, who remains in
Brazil, will cooperate with the investigation, broadcaster NBC reported.
and Gunnar had already cleared customs and boarding at Rio's international
airport when they were detained.
can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to
the United States by Brazilian authorities," said Patrick Sandusky,
spokesman for the US Olympic Committee.
were later released "with the understanding that they would continue their
discussions about the incident on Thursday," Sandusky said.
police said that agents were now "analyzing content of the testimony
already gathered in the investigation and putting it together with results of
other ongoing actions."
one of the best known faces of the US Olympic squad, says he and three
team-mates were held up by muggers posing as police as they left a late night
party in central Rio.
gave interviews describing the supposed robbery in detail and Brazilian Olympic
authorities later issued a public apology for the security slip up.
apparently high-profile crime touched a nerve in Rio. In addition to multiple
incidents of thefts from Olympic athletes and media, a Portuguese government
minister was mugged in the swish Leblon district.
was a report overnight Wednesday in Britain's Guardian newspaper that a British
team member was held up at gunpoint, but was unharmed. The team had since been
advised not to leave the confines of the athletes' Village, according to the
harrowing story got worldwide attention.
he had a gun put to his forehead after the swimmers' taxi was pulled over by
criminals who forced them to lie on the ground and stole money and other items.
guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, 'Get
down,'" Lochte said afterwards. "He took our money, he took my wallet
-- he left my cell phone, he left my credentials."
Olympic officials have said police are still looking for key witnesses,
including the cab driver.
Judge Keyla Blank on Wednesday ordered the athletes be stopped from leaving
Brazil so that a probe could be opened into "possible inconsistencies in
the swimmers' stories", including varying accounts of how many assailants
judge also highlighted security camera footage showing the athletes returning
to their lodgings on the night of the reported incident and appearing to be
to the NBC report, Lochte strongly denied that the swimmers made up the story.
wouldn't make up a story like this nor would the others -- as a matter of fact
we all feel it makes us look bad," it quoted Lochte as saying.