NEW YORK: American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who concocted a robbery story in Rio de Janeiro and then left his team-mates to carry the can, has apologised for his behaviour and “not being more careful or candid.”
Notably he did not offer a specific apology to the people and police services of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil for the original lies.
Four US swimmers, including six-gold-medal hero Lochte, had claimed they were held up at gunpoint after leaving a party in the early hours of Sunday. Lochte said that the four had been victims of a robbery by at least one armed assailant posing as a Rio policeman.
However, by the time Lochte had run away home to the United States, CCTV showed a very different story.
Brazilian police said on Thursday that the athletes were drunk and got into an altercation with security staff after vandalising a petrol station bathroom during a night on the town.
In a statement now Lochte said: “It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country – with a language barrier – and to have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behaviour of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that I am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event.”
Scott Blackmun, US Olympic Committee chief, indicated that the athletes had confirmed the police version.
“They stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, where one of the athletes committed an act of vandalism.
“An argument ensued between the athletes and two armed gas station security 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.”
Fernando Veloso, Rio de Janeiro’s police chief, said CCTV footage at the petrol station showed a security official pulling his weapon to restrain a drunk and angry Lochte and his teammates because they tried to leave after damaging the bathroom.
Veloso added: “There was no robbery of the kind reported by the athletes. The images do not show any kind of violence against them.”
Lochte, one of the most visible US faces at the Olympics, claimed an assailant put a gun to his forehead after the swimmers’ taxi was pulled over. He had said: “The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,'” he recounted. He took our money, he took my wallet – he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
The US media has turned on Lochte. The New York Post labelled him: “Liar, liar, Speedo on fire,” for the New York Daily News it was: “The Lochte mess monster.”
Fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger eventually left Brazil on Thursday night after being taken off an aircraft while Jimmy Feigen, the fourth swimmer, donated $11,000 to a children’s sports accademy and will have his passport returned as part of the agreement.
The IOC has launched a disciplinary inquiry.
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