USOC Apologizes for 'Distracting Ordeal' from US Swimmers Who Claimed Robbery

The two U.S. Olympic swimmers were recommended for charges.

ByABC News
August 18, 2016, 11:24 PM

— -- The U.S. Olympic Committee Thursday night apologized to Brazil for the "distracting ordeal" stemming from what Brazilian authorities call a fabricated claim of a gunpoint robbery by a group of swimmers in Rio de Janeiro.

"The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members," the statement said. "We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States."

Their behavior was also blasted by the head of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus Thursday night.

"While we are thankful our athletes are safe, we do not condone the lapse in judgement and conduct that led us to this point. It is not representative of what is expected as Olympians, as Americans, as swimmers and as individuals," the statement said.

On Thursday, police in Rio de Janeiro recommended that U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte and James Feigen face charges of false reporting of a crime, a civil police spokesperson said.

The recommendation of charges follows assertions by Brazil's police today that Lochte, Feigen and two other U.S. swimmers -- Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz -- who said they were held up at gunpoint in Rio were not robbed.

In a statement, Lochte's lawyer, Jeffrey Ostrow, said he wasn't aware of "the federal police recommending charges for filing a false police report."

"I am not surprised to hear it though. They've gone this far and have failed to acknowledge that the robbery actually took place, so that would be the natural next step," the statement said. "A gun was pointed at the swimmers and they were forced to get out of their cab and give up their money. No matter what happened at that gas station, the swimmers were robbed by people with a gun appearing to be law enforcement. No matter what country you are in that is robbery and robbery is a serious crime."

The USOC said that Conger and Bentz left Rio Thursday night after giving statements to authorities and getting their passports back. Feigen provided a revised statement this evening in the hopes of getting his passport released, the USOC said. Lochte had already returned to the United States.

One or more of the U.S. Olympic swimmers vandalized a bathroom at a gas station after the four left a party early Sunday, according to Rio's Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso. The athletes broke mirrors and damaged other things in the bathroom, police said.

The athletes initially refused to stay at the gas station, but security asked the taxi not to leave. Another person stepped in to translate between the athletes and the guards, and the athletes left money, police said.

Police said that witnesses were initially afraid to speak to police.

There was no evidence of violence against the athletes, police noted. The investigation is ongoing.

Sources who spoke to the four swimmers today disputed Brazilian police's characterization of what happened, telling ABC News that Lochte and the others were held up by gunmen until the athletes handed over hundreds of dollars.

In its statement, the USOC said that an argument took place between the athletes and two armed gas station staff "who displayed their weapons, ordered the athletes from their vehicle and demanded the athletes provide a monetary payment. Once the security officials received money from the athletes, the athletes were allowed to leave."

The swimmers have cooperated with police, the sources told ABC News.

On Sunday, Lochte claimed that he and the other three swimmers were robbed in a taxi early that morning while heading to the Olympic Village.

Yesterday, Lochte told NBC News' Matt Lauer that the swimmers had used a restroom at a gas station and when they returned to the taxi, the driver didn't move. That's when two men approached with guns and badges and told the athletes to get out of the taxi and get down, Lochte said.

Surveillance video obtained by Brazil's Globo TV shows the swimmers at a gas station. Additional surveillance footage obtained by Globo TV shows the swimmers arriving at a party at French House around 1:45 a.m. and leaving four hours later. According to a judge in the case, the athletes claimed to have left the party at 4 a.m.