It appears Brazilian officials are not simply going to let this one go. With Ryan Lochte reportedly back in the US (and teammate James Feigen unaccounted for) following the Brazilain judge’s search-and-seizure warrant, CNN reports that two fellow swimmers involved in the alleged robbery – Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz – were removed by Brazilian authorities on Wednesday night from their flight before it departed Rio de Janeiro to the United States, according to US Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky.
As a reminder, Lochte, a gold-medal winner, said his wallet was stolen as he and three of his American teammates — Bentz, Conger and James Feigen — were returning to Rio’s Olympic Village in a taxi. They said they were robbed by men posing as police officers, adding that the group initially didn’t contact the U.S. Olympic Committee because they were “afraid (they’d) get in trouble.” The story made quick waves Sunday, especially after Lochte, 32, detailed the alleged encounter on the “Today” show. Lochte’s account has come under increased scrutiny since then. Embarrassed Rio police said they have found little evidence to support the accounts, and a police source said they are unable to find the taxi driver or witnesses.
Multiple sources told NBC Sports that Conger and Bentz cleared security and were in their seats on the plane when authorities came on to the aircraft shortly before takeoff and removed the swimmers.
They are being held at the airport but are being treated well and cordially, the sources said.
Authorities have indicated they don’t want to hold the swimmers long, but do want to know what happened during the early morning robbery, the sources said.
“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. “We are gathering further information.”
Lochte’s lawyer Ostrow said Lochte gave police a statement as representatives from the U.S. State Department, United States Olympic Committee and the FBI observed. Lochte signed the statement to attest to its truthfulness, Ostrow said.
Police have not asked Lochte for more information, and they did not ask him to remain in Brazil, Ostrow said.
“They never said, ‘Stay around,'” Ostrow said. “Otherwise, I would have advised Ryan to stay.”
He accused Brazilian authorities of trying to “save face” after allowing the incident to become “a circus.”
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Of course, if one were truly wearing their tin foil hat, one might wonder if this is somehow retribution for Washington’s alleged hand in Rousseff’s downfall…
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