Sunday, September 23, 2018
Sports

U.S. swimmers robbed but safe

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Ryan Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday by thieves posing as police officers who stopped their taxi and took their money and belongings.

In the latest security trouble to hit the Games, Lochte told NBC that one of the robbers put a gun to his forehead before taking his wallet. All four swimmers were safe and unharmed, Lochte wrote later in a message posted on Instagram.

Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were returning to the Athletes Village by taxi after a night out at the French Olympic team's hospitality house in Rio's upscale south zone. The outing was several hours after the swimming competition ended Saturday night.

"We got pulled over in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing," Lochte told NBC's Today show. "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 down 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, I was like, 'Whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet. He left my cellphone (and) my (Olympic) credentials."

The robbers took cash and credit cards only, and no Olympic medals were lost, U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. All four swimmers won gold in relays. Lochte's made the former Gator, 32, a 12-time Olympic medalist.

Brazilian police said that they were investigating. The swimmers were cooperating with authorities, Sandusky said.

Word of the robbery touched off a chain of confusion between International Olympic Committee and U.S. officials. An IOC spokesman initially said the reports were "absolutely not true," then reversed himself, apologized and said he had relied on wrong information from the USOC.

Street crime was a major concern of Olympic organizers going into the Games. Last week, a Brazilian security officer was fatally shot after taking a wrong turn into a dangerous slum. Two Australian rowing coaches were attacked and robbed by two assailants in Ipanema. Portugal's education minister was held up at knifepoint on a busy street. Stray bullets have twice landed in the equestrian venue, and two windows were shattered on a media bus in an attack Rio organizers blamed on rocks and others on gunfire.

After Sunday's robbery, the Australian Olympic Committee banned its athletes from Ipanema and Copacabana beaches after nightfall.

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