Rio 2016: Swimmers at the centre of robbery claims should be given 'a break'


Ryan Lochte and the three other American swimmers at the centre of confusing claims over an alleged robbery do not need to apologise and should be given "a break", Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday.

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were taken off a plane at Rio airport on Wednesday as local police investigate Sunday's alleged robbery involving them and two team-mates. James Feigen has also stayed in Rio while Lochte has reportedly already returned to the United States.

Rio 2016 spokesman Andrada apologised earlier in the week for the incident but has no intention of retracting it once the facts of the story have been determined by the authorities.

Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger leave the police station at Rio International Airport.
Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger leave the police station at Rio International Airport (Mauro Pimentel/AP)

"I do not regret having apologised...and no apologies from him and other athletes are needed," Andrada said at Thursday morning's daily media briefing.

"We need to understand these kids were trying to have fun.

"They came here, they represented their country to the best of their ability. They trained for four years, they competed under gigantic pressure.

"I understand this issue is under investigation. I cannot go much further into the case.

4 Olympics straight we've won this relay. So humbled to be apart of this moment! #USA #olympics #relay #gold

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

"But let's give those kids a break. Sometimes you take actions that you later regret.

"Why should the swimmers apologise? No. They had fun, they made a mistake, it's part of life, life goes on."

Lochte is a six-time Olympic champion and 12-time medal winner while Bentz and Conger won gold medals in the 4×200 metres freestyle relay in Rio, alongside Lochte, and Feigen took gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

The quartet claimed their taxi returning to the athletes' village after a night out was stopped by men posing as armed police who robbed them.

But that story appears to be starting to unravel as CCTV footage has emerged in the Brazilian media of Feigen and Lochte returning to the village much later than they claimed and Lochte's wallet, which was supposed to have been stolen, passing through the security check.

Rio police have also been unable to find the driver of their taxi while reports in US media on Thursday claimed the swimmers had become embroiled in a fight at a petrol station.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said it was a matter for the United States Olympic Committee.

"It's not for us to comment at this stage, particularly as we don't know the full facts," Adams said.

Late on Wednesday, local time, the USOC confirmed Conger and Bentz were stopped from leaving Rio.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky on Thursday added: "The three US Olympic swimmers (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen) are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities.

"All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the US consulate in Rio."