Rio Police Remove U.S. Swimmers From Flight To Ask About Reported Robbery

August 18, 2016

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, two American swimmers who were with Ryan Lochte last weekend when their group reportedly suffered a robbery, are now speaking to police, hours after officers attempted to seize Lochte’s passport.

Police stopped the two swimmers at Rio’s Tom Jobim International Airport, taking them off their flight back home in order to question them.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky released the following statement:

“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities. We are gathering further information.”

The newspaper O Globo reports that Bentz, 20, and Conger, 21, were taken to the Galeão civil police station – which, like the airport, is on Governador Island.

It’s the latest development in a strange case that has left many puzzled — and has led to accusations in Brazil that the American swimmers fabricated their account.

News of the two Americans’ questioning comes more than 12 hours after police visited the Athletes Village Wednesday morning, in an attempt to speak with Lochte and another swimmer, James Feigen, about the account that they had given police under oath. But Lochte had already left for the U.S., and his attorney told NPR earlier today that he had not received any official requests to speak wih the decorated Olympic swimmer.

A central question right now regards the whereabouts of Feigen, 26; earlier today, we saw reports that he, like Lochte, had returned back home in the U.S. But tonight, we’re seeing reports that Feigen may have checked in for the same flight as Bentz and Conger but was not detained by police.

On Sunday, the swimmers described being robbed after a late-night party, with Lochte saying armed men took his wallet. But the story has raised questions here in Brazil, particularly after surveillance video emerged that purportedly shows the athletes returning to the Athletes Village on the morning in question, still in possession of their cellphones, watches, and other items that are often targeted by thieves.

The video, which was first published by The Daily Mail, also seems to show the athletes in a relaxed mood, with Lochte swinging his credential at one of his friends.

Bentz and Conger were part of the team that won a gold medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay; they raced in the earlier heats that put the team into the final. Both of them are in college: Bentz attends the University of Georgia and Conger the University of Texas.

Feigen swam in the 4x100m freestyle relay; he lives in Charlotte, N.C., according to his official Olympics biography.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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