Amid an ongoing investigation surrounding Ryan Lochte and his teammates, the Olympic gold medalist is standing by his story.
After swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Lochte told U.S. Olympic Committee officials they were being driven home Sunday morning when "their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes' money and other personal belongings," Rio police could not corroborate their story. As of Wednesday, they had been unable to find any evidence supporting the athletes' claims, including the men's taxi driver or witnesses to the reported crime.
Brazilian Judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop subsequently ordered Feigen and Lochte's passports seized to prevent them from leaving the country, though Lochte had already arrived in the United States. Wednesday evening, Conger and Bentz were pulled off of their flight home shortly before take off and detained for questioning by Brazilian authorities. The men were released overnight "with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday," according to United States Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky.
Regardless of recent developments, Lochte stands by their account. "I wouldn't make up a story like this nor would the others," Lauer said, quoting Lochte from their phone conversation Wednesday. "As a matter of fact, we all feel it makes us look bad. We're victims in this and we're happy that we're safe."
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However, the journalist noted that there had been differences in what the athlete told him last night and what he had described to Billy Bush in a previous on-camera interview. While Lochte told Bush the gun had been cocked to his forehead, he told Lauer it was pointed in his "general direction."
As for the location of their taxi, he originally told Bush the cab had been pulled over by men with a police badge, while in his account to Lauer, he said they had stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom when the alleged robbery occurred.
Additionally, in a statement from the Rio de Janeiro court on Wednesday, Cnop mentioned that the athletes had been inconsistent about the number of robbers involved during their initial testimonies. She also mentioned their "attitude" while going through security upon return to the Olympic Village, where they were recorded on surveillance cameras.
Lochte's lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, told the Associated Press Tuesday that his client was telling the truth. "This happened the way he described it," Ostrow said (via NBC Connecticut). "Ryan was a hundred percent cooperative and fully available when they reached out to us for an interview."
"It doesn't behoove Ryan and anyone else to make up a story," he added.
Currently, Bentz and Conger are barred from leaving Brazil and Rio's special tourism police unit, DEAT, are "in the process of analyzing the testimonies of the swimmers as well as investigating other evidence surrounding the case," according to a new statement from Rio de Janeiro civil police.
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