Brazilian police have found zero evidence that American swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates were robbed at gunpoint — despite investigation that has been going on for four days.
Swimmers Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were returning to the athlete village after a night out at the French Olympic team’s hospitality house in the upscale section of the city, several hours after Saturday night’s Olympic swimming, when their taxi reportedly was pulled over in a fake police stop. According to Lochte, the robbers were dressed in police uniform complete with badges. They pulled out their gun and ordered the swimmers to get down on their knees. When Lochte resisted, one of them put a gun directly to his head. Then they took away their money and wallets but left them with their cell phones and IDs.
However, there are some glaring holes in Lochte’s story. The swimmers said they failed to report the incident immediately because “we were afraid we’d get in trouble.” When the police questioned the victims, they alleged they were inebriated at the time and could not remember the type and color of the taxi they rode in nor the time and place of the robbery.
A police officer, whose name has not been released because the investigation is currently undergoing, has also added they cannot find the taxi driver or any witnesses who can provide testimony to the incident.
Jeff Ostrow, Lochte’s attorney, however, asserts there is no doubt the robbery happened and exactly “the way he [Lochte] described it.” He also said Lochte was kept under 24-hour security and intended to go get back to the United States soon.
When asked about the incident from the Olympic and U.S. officials, they showed signs of ambiguity. An Olympic spokesman at first said the reports of the robbery were “absolutely not true” but later apologized and recanted his statement.
USA swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said the organization has no further comments and that all four athletes were safe and cooperating with the authorities.
Perhaps the lack of information by the authorities is not surprising considering the city often lacks resources. The high rate of crime in Rio de Janeiro also has the police juggling numerous investigations. A lot of crimes in the city do not even get reported.
What’s surprising is that not a single one of the swimmers is able to remember details surrounding the incident when they can recount the robbery itself so clearly.
Did Lochte and his teammates make it all up in their heads? And even if they did, the mystery remains why.