Team USA swimmer Ryan Lochte may have won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but it was his robbery allegations that became the highlight of the games before eventually turning into a diplomatic crisis.
The Brazilian authorities have denied the incident, claiming there is no evidence supporting the swimmer’s allegations. However, Lochte insists that he is not fabricating the story — despite altering the details of the encounter more than once.
Here is a timeline of the robbery saga that just keeps on getting bizarre:
August 13: Ryan Lochte Attends A Party
Lochte, along with fellow U.S. swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, attended a party at the French Olympic team house in the Rodrigo de Freitas area on Saturday night.
The house, located at the Jockey Club Gavea about a mile off Ipanema beach, is apparently in a more affluent part of Rio where violent crimes are less frequent, according to the police.
Lochte also posted several Snapchats from the party.
August 14: The News Of The Robbery Surfaces
Fox Sports’ Ben Way was the first to break the news.
Lochte alleged that the thieves posed as police officers and held the swimmers at gunpoint, mugging them as they head back to the U.S. Olympic team house in a taxi. He said the robbers put a gun to his forehead and took his wallet but left the phone.
He also posted a statement about the incident on his Instagram account.
Bentz also tweeted about the robbery.
We are all safe. Thank you for your love and support.— Gunnar Bentz (@TheGunnyBunny) August 14, 2016
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee initially denied the story.
IOC director of comms Mark Adams has just said Lochte gunpoint story is "not true."— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) August 14, 2016
More from Adams on Lochte. Said his info came from USOC: “They said they’d spoken to Lochte, who said it wasn’t true.”— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) August 14, 2016
The news of the robbery was met with skepticism. But Ileana Lochte, the swimmer’s mother, told the USA Today that her son’s story was indeed true. She even added in some details — including that Lochte and his teammates were in a cab when the gunmen confronted them and stole their wallets.
August 15: Investigations Begin
Rio authorities began investigating the incident and interviewed both Lochte and Feigen but reportedly found no evidence supporting their claims.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Rio Games apologized to Lochte and the other swimmers.
“We regret the violence has got so close to the athletes,” he said. “We have requested the security authorities … need to make sure everybody is safe everywhere in the city. We apologize to those involved and regret that violence is an issue in these games.”
August 16: Lochte Returns To The United States
The severe lack of evidence and the conflicting statements from the supposed victims made the entire situation even more questionable. A police official said the swimmers could neither remember the exact number of robbers nor the color or type of the taxi.
Lochte, as later discovered, had already returned to the United States that day, cutting his trip short.
He even posted a photo on Snapchat declaring he was back in the country.
August 17: Rio Authorities Remove Team USA Swimmers From The Plane
A Brazilian judge issued an order to seize Lochte and Feigen’s passports, preventing them from leaving the country while police investigated the robbery claim. It was confirmed that Lochte had already flown home. However, USA Swimming could not confirm Feigen’s location.
Later, Brazilian police delayed a U.S. bound flight in order to haul the other two swimmers — Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz — from the plane.
BREAKING: The other 2 USA swimmers who say they were w Lochte during robbery have just been pulled off their plane at Rio airport.— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) August 18, 2016
“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” said Patrick Sandusky, a U.S. Olympic Committee spokesperson, according to Reuters.
Conger and Bentz were already aboard the United Airlines flight 128 to Houston at Rio's Galeao International Airport when the police came for them.
Since then, Lochte has once again changed his original story. This time, he said the robber never pressed the gun against his forehead and that the incident actually occurred outside a gas station bathroom.
August 18: Conger And Bentz Not Allowed To Leave Brazil
The two swimmers reportedly have to testify if they want to return to the U.S. soil.
BREAKING: Attorney says American swimmers pulled off US-bound plane will not be allowed to leave Brazil until they testify about robbery.— The Associated Press (@AP) August 18, 2016