Despite the International Olympic Committee’s relief that all four of the swimmers are still alive, the conflicting reports from each have given police officers doubt in believing the robbery as video footage at a gas station shows otherwise.
Rio de Janeiro (CNN)[Breaking news update, posted at 3:10 p.m. ET]
Civil Police chief Fernando Veloso says “there was no robbery” in Rio de Janeiro the way the US swimmers have described. One or more of the four vandalized a gas station, said Veloso.
[Previous version, posted at 2:33 p.m. ET]
Four US Olympic swimmers facing scrutiny after they reported being robbed in Rio de Janeiro allegedly vandalized a gas station on the morning in question, according to Brazilian media and a police source.
Brazil’s Globo media group has released footage that shows US swimmers Ryan Lochte, James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz at the gas station in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca neighborhood early Sunday when the athletes said they were robbed at gunpoint by men in police uniforms.
The footage shows a man in the act of urinating in a side alley at the gas station and being confronted by gas station staff.
Daily newspaper O Globo cited the station’s owner as saying the athletes had thrown stones at the business and torn one of its signs before urinating in the street.
“They stopped next to the gas station, and urinated outside right next to the gas station. We even have images of one of the athlete’s butts, as he is pulling up his pants,” said the owner, who the newspaper said chose to remain unnamed.
A police source told CNN that the athletes, who had been drinking, had torn a sign at the gas station and vandalized it.
CNN has been to the gas station and seen damage at the site.
The police source said that officers were called by the station’s security guard, but by the time they arrived, an agreement had been reached between the owner and the athletes and it was decided charges would not be pressed.
He said no firearms were drawn during the incident.
CNN has viewed the footage but cannot confirm its authenticity.
CNN has reached out to police and attorneys for the swimmers for comment on the footage but has not received any responses.
The swimmers’ accounts of being robbed at gunpoint have been subjected to increasing scrutiny, with Brazilian authorities issuing search and seizure warrants against the athletes to examine perceived inconsistencies.
Conger and Bentz were pulled off their flight bound for the United States overnight and had their passports seized as the affair spiraled into a diplomatic matter, which threatens to overshadow the Olympic Games as they draw to a close. The pair arrived at a police station Thursday in Rio’s Leblon neighborhood to answer questions about the incident.
A source close to the police investigation has told CNN that they believe there was not a robbery.
An attorney for Lochte, Jeff Ostrow, brushed off suggestions of conflicting stories, saying the four swimmers’ accounts “are 95% consistent.”
He says his client, a gold medal winner in the pool in Rio, has been cooperative with authorities and has not been asked again for assistance.
Ostrow had confirmed to CNN earlier his client returned to the United States.
“He’s the victim. He didn’t commit a crime. Same with the other guys,” Ostrow said.
“The story needs to be about 20-something-year-old kids pulled off an airplane, they’re being detained to testify to police?” Ostrow said. “C’mon.”
The US Olympic Committee said the remaining three swimmers are cooperating with police. Feigen appears to be in Brazil, but it is unclear if he is in Rio.
The incident poses questions about how much the US Olympic Committee knew about the incident from the time it was initially reported — and what action it may take against its athletes if their behavior is found to have fallen short of expected standards.
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