Brazil Questions American Olympian Ryan Lochte Robbery Claim

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Police investigating reports that American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint have found little evidence to support the claim.

Some cite a “police official with knowledge of the investigation,” who said that police cannot find the taxi driver or witnesses, according to The Associated Press (AP). Police also said that interviews with the swimmers have not been helpful, and that the swimmers were unable to provide key details like the color of the taxi or the time that the incident took place.

Initial reports that Lochte and three other members of the U.S. Olympic swimming team were robbed at gunpoint came from Lochte’s mother Sunday morning. The International Olympic Committee initially denied that the robbery took place, until both Lochte and the U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed that the incident occurred.

A Brazilian judge issued an order Wednesday to prevent Lochte and one of his teammates, James Feigen, from leaving the country as questions emerge regarding the veracity of their testimony to police, but Lochte has already left the country. Feigen’s location is currently unknown.

Lochte described the harrowing ordeal to NBC’s “Today Show”: “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,” Lochte told the show. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground, they got down on the ground.”

Lochte said that he initially refused to get down on the ground, stating that he didn’t do anything wrong, and at that point one of the men pulled out a gun and cocked it to his forehead and said to get down. Lochte complied, and the men took his money and his wallet but left his cell phone and his credentials.

According to Lochte, he and his teammates did not immediately alert police of the incident because they were fearful that they may get in trouble. His attorney told USA Today that Lochte, “didn’t want this to turn into what it did,” and that, “The Olympics are more important and Team USA’s performances are more important.”

Brazilian authorities may be questioning the circumstances of the reported robbery in order to mitigate a high profile incident. Crimes in Brazil often go unsolved, and with all of the media fervor surrounding the Lochte case, the police are under a lot of pressure to find the perpetrators. A string of armed robberies have occurred during the games, with one athlete claiming that he was actually briefly kidnapped and robbed by the police just days before the Olympics began.

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