Ryan Lochte's full apology for the Rio robbery imbroglio
MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Ryan Lochte made headlines when he said he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. But in the days that followed, their story shifted, details didn't add up – and on Thursday it all unravelled, with Brazilian authorities accusing him of making it up after an intoxicated encounter at a gas station. Now, Lochte has apologized. Here's what he said – and what he didn't say.
LOCHTE'S FULL APOLOGY
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. 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 I am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event. 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.
I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio ‘16 Host Committee, and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that these Olympic Games provided a lifetime of great new memories. There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes.
THE SAGA SO FAR
How it began: The robbery story emerged after Lochte's mother, Ileana Lochte, told U.S. television last Sunday morning that her son had been robbed after a party. Lochte gave his own version of the events in an NBC interview, where he said he and three teammates – Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen – were stopped by men with police badges who threatened them with guns.
Discrepancies add up: Initial testimony to the police by Lochte and Feigen gave a conflicting picture of the alleged robbery. The men said they could not remember the colour of the taxi they took, or where exactly the crime took place.
Legal hot water: Lochte left Brazil on Tuesday, but the next day, a Brazilian court ordered him and his teammates' passports confiscated. The three others were brought in for questioning.
"There was no robbery": On Thursday, Brazilian police said at a news conference that two of the swimmers confessed the robbery story was made up. Police said video and witness evidence confirmed the swimmers got in a confrontation with a security guard at a gas station after they damaged the bathroom door and the attendant asked them to pay for it, which they did.
MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
WHAT THE APOLOGY SAYS, AND DOESN'T SAY
Lochte's statement does not describe his or his teammates' behaviour in specific terms, does not address claims that the four were intoxicated. It also highlights a key detail he has asserted from the beginning: That a gun was pointed at him.
In the Brazilian police's version of events on Thursday, Chief Fernando Veloso of the state of Rio de Janeiro acknowledged that a security guard involved in the incident did point his gun at Lochte at one point, but he said it "does not seem to us an overreaction. … He was doing his job and he had the gun in accordance with the law."
Lochte's attorney, Jeff Ostrow – who has insisted the story wasn't made up – told The New York Times the surveillance video corroborated the "primary elements" of Lochte's version of events. "There was a uniformed person with a gun who forced them to hand over their money," Ostrow told the newspaper.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE SWIMMERS
CASSANDRA GARRISON VIA REUTERS TV/REUTERS
Lochte, Bentz and Conger have returned to the United States, while Feigen was still in Brazil on Friday morning.
A lawyer for Feigen said early Friday that the athlete reached an agreement with a judge in which he planned to donate 35,000 Brazilian reals ($10,800 U.S.) to an "institution" and leave the country. Attorney Breno Melaragno said that under the agreement, Feigen would make the donation, get his passport back and depart.
Police have said authorities are considering charges of falsely reporting a crime and destruction of property, both of which can carry up to six months in jail or a fine.
Lochte, 32, has said he plans to take an extended break after the Rio Games and relocate to Los Angeles. Swimming's biggest meet next year is the world championships in Budapest, Hungary.
With reports from Stephanie Nolen, Evan Annett and Associated Press