Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger are the Olympic gold medalist swimmers who were pulled off a plane by Brazilian authorities.
It’s all part of an increasingly bizarre saga involving Olympic medalists Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen claiming that they were part of a group of swimmers robbed at gunpoint.
Globo.com, a Brazilian news site, said, Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso wants the athletes to “apologize to Rio” and said “The only truth they told is that they were drunk.”
“No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Veloso said during an afternoon news conference, said Chicago Tribune. However, police now say security guards at the gas station did pull guns on the swimmers when they tried to break into a bathroom. The Tribune quoted Veloso as saying security guards were justified in pulling weapons on the swimmers, who were large and strong men who “were conducting themselves in a violent way.”
“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” United States Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement, according to Yahoo Sports. “We are gathering further information.”
Earlier in the day, a Brazilian judge raised questions about the stories of Lochte and Feigen and ordered their passports seized. However, Lochte had already left Brazil. Feigen remains in Brazil. Lochte denies making up the story.
Bentz and Conger were allowed to return to the U.S. later on Aug. 19. They waded through an angry crowd.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Brazilian Judge Raised Questions About the Robbery Story & Video Shows One of The Swimmers in a Fight
According to CNN, the Brazilian judge had issued a search and seizure warrant for Lochte and Feigen “as questions emerge about their account of being robbed at gunpoint early Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.”
The swimmers had said they were robbed by people posing as armed police officers while they were in a taxi returning to the Olympic Village, said CNN.
The Brazilian judge said “Lochte and Feigen gave contradictory accounts of the robbery, according to the court’s statement,” NBC said.
NBC said the judge’s filing contended that Lochte described one robber, but Feigen said there were more, but only one with a gun.
ABC News says, according to a Brazilian police source, “one of the swimmers was seen on CCTV footage breaking down the door to the bathroom at the gas station and fighting with a security guard” that night. Lochte had told NBC’s Matt Lauer that the men were robbed after using a restroom at the gas station, said ABC.
The New York Daily News says the men paid cash after one of them broke the door and that police believe they made up the heist.
Rio federal police have recommended that Lochte and Feigen face charges of false reporting of a crime, but sources close to the swimmers insisted to ABC News that the swimmers were held up by gunman until they gave money.
2. The Swimmers Were Captured on Surveillance Video Returning to the Olympic Village on The Day in Question
The UK Daily Mail obtained surveillance video showing the swimmers returning to the Olympic Village after the purported heist.
The judge also cited the men’s “attitude” on the surveillance camera video after the purported heist.
The judge wrote that there “were questions about a gap between when the swimmers said they left France House and arrived at the athletes’ village,” said USA Today.
ABC News said the security footage “showed the four swimmers arriving at Olympic Village shortly before 7 a.m., an arrival time that leaves an unexplained time gap. The swimmers said that they left a party at 4 a.m. and were robbed shortly thereafter.”
3. Bentz Is From Atlanta & The Son of College Athletes
Bentz grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia. Both of his parents were college athletes in track and field, said Swimswam.
Team USA says the 6-foot 5-inch, 185-pound Bentz is 20-years-old and is studying business management and aerospace at The University of Georgia. He won a gold medal in Rio and started swimming at age 3.
4. Conger Is From Maryland & Holds The American Record in The 200y Fly
Conger is from Rockville, Maryland and went to college in Texas for corporate communication, according to his USA Swimming team biography.
He qualified for his first Olympic roster with a third-place finish in the 200m free and was a three-time medalist at the 2015 World University Games, the bio said. He “set the American record in the 200y fly in a time trial at the 2015 Big 12 Championships,” according to the bio and is a gold medalist.
Team USA says he is 6-foot 5-inches tall, weighs 175 pounds and is 21-years-old.
5. Bentz & Conger Were Arrested to Compel Their Testimony in The Robbery Case, Police Say
Yahoo sports quoted a prominent Rio de Janiero newspaper as saying the men were removed from the plane to compel their testimony.
“They had been called to testify by the civil police, but did not attend. The police came to look for them in the athletes’ village and in some hotels but did not find them. Therefore, they were arrested and taken to testify,” reported the news site, Yahoo said.
ABC News said “Rio police have searched the rooms of the four swimmers in the Olympic Village.”
ESPN quotes USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky as saying that Bentz, Conger and Feigen were planning to speak with authorities on Aug. 18.
“The three U.S. Olympic swimmers are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities,” Sandusky said, according to ESPN. “All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio.”
Sergio Riera, a Brazilian attorney for Conger and Bentz, “said Wednesday that the swimmers left the Rio de Janeiro airport for an unspecified location in Brazil,” said ESPN, adding that a police source said the two swimmers were interviewed for about three hours at the airport. By the evening of Aug. 18, though, they were on their way back home.
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