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Ryan Lochte’s Rio Robbery Controversy: Everything We Know

Ryan Lochte and three of his U.S. Olympic swimming teammates claimed that they were robbed and held at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, August 14. Now, however, Brazilian authorities believe that they lied to cover up a brawl they had with a gas station security guard.

Some athletes were detained in Rio for questioning earlier this week. Lochte, meanwhile, has already arrived back in the States.

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United States' Ryan Lochte checks his time after a men' 4x200-meter freestyle relay heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
United States’ Ryan Lochte checks his time after a men’ 4×200-meter freestyle relay heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Here is everything we know surrounding the controversy so far:

Lochte Posts Party Video
Sunday, August 14

Lochte, 32, reportedly shared a video via Snapchat around 2:25 a.m. while clubbing at the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio’s Lagoa district.

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Lochte’s Mom Speaks Out
Sunday, August 14

Lochte’s mom, Ileana Lochte, told USA Today that her son and at least one other teammate were confronted by a group of people with guns and knives on Sunday morning. She said the athletes were on their way to see Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira and were in a cab at a gas station at the time. The International Olympic Committee, however, said that the story was untrue.

Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen of the United States participate in the medal ceremony during Day Eight of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen of the United States participate in the medal ceremony during Day Eight of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 3, 2016, in Omaha, Nebraska. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

United States Olympic Committee Confirms Robbery
Sunday, August 14

Later that day, the USOC released a statement on the matter. “According to four members of the U.S. Olympic swimming team (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte), they left France House early Sunday morning in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village,” spokesman Patrick Sandusky told Us Weekly. “Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers, who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”

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Lochte Details Alleged Incident
Sunday, August 14

The Olympic medalist broke his silence on the matter during an interview with the Today show’s Billy Bush — and added more details about the alleged robbery.

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge, and they pulled us over,” he recalled, while still in Rio. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused. I was like, ‘We didn’t do anything wrong, so I’m not getting on the ground.'”

“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead, and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up,” he continued. “I was like, ‘Whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”

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Ryan Lochte addresses the media at the USOC Olympic Meida Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
Ryan Lochte addresses the media at the USOC Olympic Meida Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 7, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images for the USOC

Lochte Thanks Supporters

Monday, August 15

“I want to thank all of my family, friends, and fans for the overwhelming support and concern I have received today,” he wrote via Instagram. “While it is true that my teammates and I were the victims of a robbery early Sunday morning, what is most important is that we are safe and unharmed,” he wrote. “I look forward to getting home so that I can begin to map out the plans for my future with an eye on representing #TeamUSA at the #2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

Lochte Reveals Why He Didn’t Come Forward Sooner
Tuesday, August 16

The athlete told USA Today that he didn’t tell the U.S. Olympic Committee about the incident earlier “because we were afraid we’d get in trouble.”

“I know that Ryan didn’t want this to turn into what it did,” Ryan’s lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, added. “The Olympics are more important and Team USA’s performances are more important.”

Police Can’t Find Any Evidence
Wednesday, August 17

One day later, the Associated Press reported that Rio officials “have found no evidence” to support the players’ accounts and that the athletes “were unable to provide key details in police interviews.”

Journalists surround American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger, center, as they leave the police station at Rio International airport early Thursday Aug. 18, 2016.
Journalists surround American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz (left) and Jack Conger as they leave the police station at Rio International Airport early Thursday Aug. 18, 2016. AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel

Plane Detainment
Wednesday, August 17

Conger, 21, and Bentz, 20, were removed from their U.S.-bound flight by Brazilian authorities for questioning. “They were released by local authorities with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday,” Sandusky told Us in a statement.

Judge Keyla Blank then ordered Lochte and Feigen’s passports to be seized. Feigen, 26, was later detained in Rio before his own flight, but Lochte had already returned home. Prior to that, Feigen opened up about the situation in an interview with USA Today Sports.

“I’m just trying to give Brazil what they need or what they want and get out of here,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s a hassle, but I’m safe. Everything’s fine.”

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Lochte Denies He Lied About Robbery, Changes a Few Details
Wednesday, August 17

NBC interrupted its Olympics coverage for a breaking news segment with the Today show’s Matt Lauer at 10 p.m. ET local time. The veteran journalist revealed that he spoke with Lochte via phone about the new developments.

“‘We wouldn’t make this story up,'” Lauer said, quoting the swimmer. “‘We’re victims in this and we’re happy that we’re safe.'”

During the on-the-record conversation, Lochte claimed that the Brazilian police even congratulated him and his teammates on their victories while discussing the matter.

“He went out of his way to say that he told them he was reachable, that he would cooperate, they could get to him through his agent or through his lawyer,” Lauer told Bob Costas via satellite. “They did ask him what the gun looked like, what was taken from him … He seemed somewhat surprised by how few questions they asked him here, considering he just told them he was held up at gunpoint.”

Still, Lauer confirmed to Costas that Lochte appeared to alter his story a bit. He initially said that a gun was pointed at his forehead, but now vaguely says that it was pointed in his direction.

“I think he feels it was more of a traumatic mischaracterization. People listening at home might feel that was embellishment at the time, and that’s up to people to decide,” Lauer explained. “He stuck to most of the story, he did change one thing — I would say he softened something, or stepped back.”

Brazilian Authorities Think They Lied About Robbery
Thursday, August 18

Rio police reportedly believe that the four U.S. athletes lied about the alleged robbery to cover up a fight that they had with a gas station security guard. “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,” a Brazilian police source told ABC News.

According to the Associated Press, a security guard approached them after they allegedly broke down the door around 6 a.m. The security guard was armed with a pistol, but concealed it. Additionally, the men agreed to pay the manager money for the damages. On Thursday, officials claimed that Conger and Bentz admitted that the robbery story was fabricated during questioning on Wednesday night.

The USOC released a statement following the new development. “The three U.S. Olympic swimmers (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen) are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities,” Sandusky told Us. “All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio.”

Feigen Breaks His Silence
Thursday, August 18

Feigen backed Lochte during a phone interview with the San Antonio Express-News. “We were robbed at gunpoint. It sounds like people assume we’re guilty,” he said.

Gas Station Footage Surfaces
Thursday, August 18

CCTV released video of the men exiting the gas station and walking to their taxi. At one point, a man in a black uniform approaches them. They get out of the vehicle and appear to hand him money. According to ABC News, 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.”

Brazilian Police Press Conference
Thursday, August 18

Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said during a press conference that “there was no robbery” and that the athletes had vandalized the gas station.

United States Olympic Committee Apologizes
Thursday, August 18

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun confirmed that the athletes were involved in vandalizing the gas station bathroom.

“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. We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States,” Blackmun said in a statement to Us. “On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence.”

Feigen Pays Up
Friday, August 19

The Associated Press reported that Feigen agreed to pay roughly $11,000 to a charity called Reaction Institute in order to leave Brazil. Feigen, Bentz and Conger were questioned by authorities before being allowed to fly back home to the U.S.

Lochte Apologizes for His Actions
Friday, August 19

The 12-time Olympic medalist spoke out about the gas station controversy via social media. “I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend — for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics,” he wrote via Instagram. “I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.”

“It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event,” he continued. “I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.”

A post shared by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

Rio Olympics Committee Accepts Lochte’s Apology
Friday, August 19

Hours later, the Rio Olympics Committee accepted Lochte’s apology. “We obviously accept Lochte’s apologies. However, we think the Brazilian people were hurt by their swimmers’ attitude. It was clear that much of the population felt humiliated by this false robbery claim and people worried that the image of Brazil was damaged by this incident,” Mario Andrada, the Rio Committee’s communications director, said in a Portuguese statement exclusively obtained by Us Weekly. “But, as we say in Brazil, ‘A lie has got short legs.’ And the population should be proud of our image around the world.”

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