Ryan Lochte said that early Sunday morning, he and three teammates were pulled over in a taxi and robbed by gunmen posing as police. The breaking of that news was messy, with the first word coming from Lochte’s mother and then the IOC initially denying it, before the USOC put out a statement and Lochte gave NBC an interview confirming it. But now at least one Rio de Janeiro police investigator—quite possibly to cover his department’s own asses—says there’s nothing to prove the robbery even happened.
This Associated Press story is a weird one, and features a police official with knowledge of the investigation saying they can’t find any evidence, and the swimmers’ interviews with police were entirely unhelpful.
The group did not call police, authorities said, and officers began investigating once they saw media reports in which Lochte’s mother spoke about the robbery. Police interviewed Lochte and one other swimmer, who said they had been intoxicated and could not remember what type and color of taxi they rode in or where the robbery happened, the police official said. The swimmers also could not say what time the events occurred.
Lord knows what’s actually going on here, but a reasonable guess would be that this police source is attempting to explain why no progress has been made on such a high-profile case. (In Rio, much of the crime goes unsolved or unreported, and police often lack the resources to properly investigate. They obviously hope something like this, featuring a well-known international athlete during the Olympic Games, can be solved.)
Meanwhile, Lochte attempted to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the robbery. In an interview with USA Today, Lochte said he and three teammates—Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen—went out following the final night of the swimming competition on Saturday, and ended up at the French House, some distance from the Olympic Village. It was on their way back to their lodgings (security footage shows them arriving at 6:56 a.m.) that the robbery occurred.
Lochte said they didn’t tell anyone initially, other than family, “because we were afraid we’d get in trouble.” So when word spread and media approached the IOC for comment on Sunday morning, the IOC consulted the USOC—which hadn’t been told anything. So the IOC issued its denial, which proved embarrassing when the swimmers eventually informed the USOC.
Lochte’s attorney told USA Today the swimmer met with authorities Sunday night, including the FBI, the U.S. State Department, USOC security, and Rio tourist police. This was after Lochte had given an interview to NBC, in which he described the 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. 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, I’m not getting down on the ground.’
“And then the guy pulled out his gun, cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet—he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
Lochte hired private security for the rest of his stay in Rio, which was brief—he ended his trip early and arrived back in the U.S. yesterday.