Lochte incident: What we know, and don't know, so far


RIO DE JANEIRO -- There have been many reports and even more subsequent questions surrounding Ryan Lochte and three other U.S. Olympic swimmers after they alleged they were robbed at gunpoint after a party in Rio. Here is what we know and don't know at this point:

Q: Who are the swimmers?

A: The four swimmers involved in the incident are Americans Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz. Lochte, 32, is the highest-profile swimmer in the group. He competed in his fourth Olympics in Rio, and has six gold medals, three silver and three bronze over his career. He has at times drawn much attention, from flashy sneakers, to wearing a grill after competitions (he wore one during the 2012 Olympics that reportedly cost $25,000), to making the word "Jeah" part of the Olympic vernacular. Lochte also has had a reputation for being a big partygoer. One of the more infamous incidents was him taking on Prince Harry in a late-night swimming duel at a hotel pool in Las Vegas. The paparazzi had a field day.

Lochte's popularity reached a new high (or low, depending on your point of view) with the debut of his own reality show, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" The show was widely panned by critics and lasted roughly five weeks from April to May 2013.

This isn't the first time Lochte has made news outside of the pool. In 2005, he was fined $110 and performed 22 hours of community service after being cited for public urination in Gainesville, Florida. Five years later, he pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge filed by University of Florida police.

The other three swimmers were not well-known outside the swimming community until events unfolded this week. Feigen, 26, was on the 2012 Olympic team and swam at the University of Texas; Conger, 21, swims at Texas; and Bentz, 20, is at Georgia. All three qualified in relays for the U.S. Olympic team. Lochte, Bentz and Conger were on the gold medal-winning 4x200 freestyle relay team, and Feigen was on the gold medal-winning 4x100 free relay team.

Q: How did this all start?

A: Fox Sports Australia reporter Ben Way reported that Lochte was robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. Then, different versions of the night emerged from various sources. ( A full timeline of the incident is here.) ? Lochte later told USA Today that the swimmers didn't initially report the incident to the IOC because they were "afraid they would get in trouble."

Q: What will the consequences be for the swimmers?

A: USOC CEO Scott Blackmun released a statement Thursday, saying "the behavior of these athletes is not acceptable ... We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States." USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said in his own statement that they would review the incident and "determine any further actions."

Athletes at the Olympics are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Olympic Committee and can be sanctioned under that body's code of conduct and/or that of USA Swimming. There is no prescribed system of punishment for specific offenses. Athletes can be suspended from competition or fined, or can have their USAS or USOC stipends cut or terminated (all subject to appeal through arbitration). Medal bonuses can be revoked or not paid out -- each of the four swimmer gets a bonus for his respective relay victory in Rio.

According to Forbes, "American Olympians receive $25,000 per gold medal, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Through Wednesday, the American Olympic contingent had medaled in 92 events, nearly a third of which were gold-medal wins. A whopping 33 of those events were in swimming, and thanks to relay teams, American swimmers netted 71 total medals worth $1.5 million, or roughly half of the U.S. Olympic team's total bonus payout thus far."

Some might point to the precedent set by Michael Phelps' suspension in 2014 after his second DUI offense. In that case, there was a combination of his lost funding, suspension from competition, and removal from the world championship team.

Q: Where are the swimmers now?

A: Lochte returned to the United States on Monday before the judge's order. Some reports said he returned to his home outside Charlotte, North Carolina, but that has not been confirmed. According to a statement released by the USOC late Thursday night, "Feigen provided a 'revised' statement" with the hope that he will have "his passport returned as soon as possible." The statement also said Conger and Bentz left the country Thursday night after cooperating with local authorities. Earlier on Thursday, Conger and Bentz were questioned at the tourist police station.

Q: Will Lochte be forced to return to Brazil?

A: It's highly unlikely that Lochte will be extradited or forced to return to Brazil. The United States and Brazil have a long-standing extradition agreement in the form of a treaty. That treaty outlines the crimes a citizen must be charged with or convicted of in order for the other country to be willing to extradite a citizen. The crimes listed in the U.S.-Brazil treaty -- murder, rape, arson, for example -- are much more serious than those alleged here. For there to even be consideration of extradition, Brazil would need to charge Lochte -- and maybe even convict him -- of a crime. But even if that happened, the U.S. government would have to be willing to ship the Olympic swimmer to Brazil. The process would end up a delicate, complicated entanglement of foreign relations.

Q: What's going on with the swimmers in the legal sense?

A: No charges have been filed or arrests made at this point. Brazilian authorities said the four U.S. swimmers could be charged with false communication of a crime and vandalism if an investigation finds wrongdoing. Brazilian police are leading the investigation and are interviewing the swimmers who remain in Rio. Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz arrived at DEAT, the tourist police department, around 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday for questioning. James Feigen has not been interviewed yet, and Ryan Lochte, who is back in the United States, also has not been interviewed by Brazilian authorities.

Normally, Brazil police investigations must be concluded within 30 days, but if the swimmers are detained in any way, the police must wrap up an investigation in 10 days. This timeline can be extended by court order, as would be appropriate in complex cases. Brazilian officials appear to be working expeditiously to investigate the case. Once the investigation is concluded, the police chief typically would write a detailed report to a judge. The report would also be shared with a prosecutor, who would determine whether to charge the swimmers with a crime, investigate further, or drop the case altogether.

Q: What do we know about the allegations and potential charges?

A: According to The Associated Press, Brazilian officials claim that some or at least one of the swimmers broke down a gas station bathroom door, vandalized the bathroom, and later falsely told local officials they were robbed at gunpoint. Under this scenario, the swimmers could be charged with filing a false police report and/or vandalism. In Brazil, each offense is punishable by one to six months in jail and/or a fine or probation. But jail time is rarely served for such crimes in Brazil, and a public apology or donation to a charity could help lessen any penalties levied.

ESPN senior writer Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne and ESPN legal analyst Adrienne Lawrence contributed to this report.