Six-time gold-medalist Ryan Lochte and three of his U.S. swimming teammates were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday morning in Rio de Janeiro. The U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed that none of the swimmers were harmed during the robbery, which occurred while the teammates were returning to the Olympic Village in a cab after leaving a party in an upscale Rio neighborhood. The armed robbers, posing as police officers, stopped the cab, then demanded the athletes’ money. In addition to Lochte, swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen were also in the car.
“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,” Lochte said. “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.”
The USOC, which had also previously denied that the robbery occurred, said that all the athletes, who only had their wallets stolen, are cooperating with authorities. Rio’s civil police say that an investigation into the robbery is underway, though Brazilian authorities originally said that they didn’t know that the robbery had happened when earlier reports surfaced.
Lochte’s mother told USA Today earlier Sunday, “I think they’re all shaken up,” as a result of the crime.
It’s not entirely clear why Lochte, the USOC, and Lochte’s personal trainer all originally denied that the robbery had happened. It’s also not clear where in the city the robbery took place, but the Washington Post passes along an odd statement from a spokesperson at the venue where the swimmers had been beforehand:
[Spokesman] Hugo Sppezapria, said that Lochte, Pereira, and friends attended a party inside Club France — a large establishment along the lagoon with sports fields, a place to ride horses, and food and clothing vendors — into the early morning hours Sunday. The party, which began around 11:30 p.m., took place at a venue inside the club called the Picadeiro Armando de Alencar and was hosted by Café de la Musique. Some 2,500 people attended.
Sppezapria said that Lochte and Pereira left the party together between 2:30 and 3 a.m. and visited another “community.”
“Why the hell would they do that?” Sppezapria said.
Though 85,000 soldiers, police, and security officers have been patrolling Rio during the games, the New York Times points out that crime has still been a problem for some of those participating in or attending the Olympic Games:
[O]n the night of the opening ceremony, the chief of security was mugged at knife-point. Two coaches for Australia’s rowing team were attacked and robbed in the Ipanema neighborhood. An Olympic security officer was killed in a dangerous neighborhood. Multiple bullets have landed in the equestrian venue, and a bus carrying members of the news media was attacked, its windows shattered.
Lochte, who is 32, grabbed the sixth gold medal of his career in Rio after helping win the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay. Bentz, Conger, and Feigen participated in heats of that and another relay race in Rio, but not in the finals.
This is a developing story and this post has been repeatedly updated.