An anonymous Brazilian police official now characterizes U.S. Olympics swimmer Ryan Lochte’s story that he and three other U.S. swimmers endured a robbery at gunpoint in Rio as false.
Last weekend, Olympic medal winner Lochte reported that he and fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen were “robbed at gunpoint” while out on the town in Rio.
As the swimmer described the incident to NBC News:
We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground.
And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.
But many sources in Brazil quickly became skeptical of the tale.
Already stories in Brazilian media reported on surveillance video of an encounter between the U.S. Olympians and employees of a gas station which seems to show the U.S. swimmers initiating a fight with the attendants, casting doubt on the robbery story.
Police, however, have admitted that the quality of the video is not good.
Lochte had already left the country, but two U.S. swimmers were recently prevented from leaving Brazil as authorities investigate the robbery claims. A third remains in Brazil.
The incident has now resulted in a minor police action as U.S. swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were pulled off a flight at the Rio de Janeiro airport and taken into custody by police. Government officials have also moved to seize the Americans’ passports.
Insiders in the police department maintain the swimmers invented the robbery story to cover up a confrontation with a security guard who accused them with damaging store property, according to the Associated Press.
All four swimmers have engaged attorneys and each insist their claim of being robbed is true.
While authorities are saying they don’t believe the American’s tale, yet another Olympian is saying he was also robbed while visiting Rio.
Scott Field, a spokesman for Team Great Britton, told NBC there was “an incident of theft involving a Team GB athlete returning to their accommodation.”
If Brazilian authorities are able to prove the the U.S. swimmers are telling a false story to cover up their own misconduct they could face probation or even expulsion from the U.S. swim team. Thus far U.S. Olympics officials have not commented on the story.
Still, others are pointing out that Lochte’s story has changed. The sports site Deadspin.com reported on the “inconsistencies” of the robbery tale, calling the story “very messy.”
In addition, Vox.com joined in with those casting doubt on the robbery story by saying Lochte may have created the tale because he “didn’t want to tell his mother about what he did on Saturday night.”
SBNation even reported this week that some of Lochte’s teammates may be contradicting the robbery tale.
Another journalist took the occasion of the robbery tale to remind her readers of how Lochte was ridiculed for a bad reality TV show he tried to sell back in 2013.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.