Jimmy Feigen is the last of the four swimmers at the scene of a Rio gas station dispute on Aug. 14 to release a statement addressing his involvement. "I omitted the facts that we urinated behind the building and that Ryan Lochte pulled a poster off the wall," the 26-year-old Olympic gold medalist told NBC News in a statement late Tuesday night. "I realize I made a mistake by omitting these facts. I was trying to protect my teammates and for this I apologize."
By the time a judge ordered Lochte and Feigen to remain in Brazil last week, Lochte was already back home in the United States. The other swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were pulled off a plane late Wednesday and questioned by police. They were later allowed to leave.
In his statement, Feigen confirmed that he was interviewed multiple times by police during their investigation into Lochte's claims. Brazilian prosecutors gave him two options: wait about a month as the investigation unfolded, or pay a fine. Prosecutors initially sought $31,500 to return Feigen's passport. But when his lawyers balked at that number, prosecutors raised the fine to $46,875. In the end, Feigen paid nearly $11,000 before he was allowed to leave Brazil. "I was able to contact my family in the United States along with my American attorneys and we were able to satisfy the payment of the fine the next day," the swimmer said. "My passport was returned to me after payment was received, and I was able to return home."
Feigen arrived in the U.S. Saturday.
His account of what happened after leaving a party at French House is similar to what his teammates said. "We pulled over to a gas station to use the bathroom but the door was locked. We did not force entry into the bathroom, nor did we ever enter the bathroom," Feigen said. "We did, however, make the regrettable decision to urinate in the grass behind the building."
The swimmer omitted the urination detail when he first spoke with police. "On our way back to the cab, Ryan Lochte pulled a poster in a metal frame off a wall. I got back into the cab and waited for the others. One of my teammates told me that a man with a gun was standing outside the cab. The man with the gun spoke with the cab driver, who got out of the cab. We then got out of the cab and I paid the driver the fare. As I walked away, the man with the gun pointed it at me and my teammate and ordered us, in Portuguese, to sit. This was the first time I have ever had a gun pointed at me and I was terrified," Feigen said. "I put my hands up and sat down on the curb. It became apparent that the man with the gun was telling us to pay, and I was unsure if they were affiliated with the gas station. Gunnar Bentz and I gave the man some money. We were then allowed to leave and we took another cab to the Village, arriving around 7:00 am. Later that day, a Rio police detective came to the USA House to take a statement. Since I was the only person available, I was told by a USOC official to provide a statement."
The statement was written by the officers in Portuguese, Feigen explained, "and I was then asked to sign the statement without seeing it translated into English." He said it was a mistake.
The swimmer also said he wanted to apologize "for the serious distractions from the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, and Team USA," explaining that it was never his intention "to draw attention away from the tradition of athletic competition and the symbolic cooperation of countries participating in the Olympic games. I want to thank the IOC and the people of Rio de Janeiro for their hospitality in hosting these games. I have nothing but respect for the city in undertaking the massive responsibility of hosting the Olympics and I feel their performance was exemplary."
"The support of my family, friends, and attorneys was paramount in my ability to return home. I am so sorry for the drama this has caused in everyone's lives," he concluded. "I am very thankful to be home in the United States with my family and that this ordeal has come to an end."
On Saturday, Lochte told NBC's Today he "over-exaggerated" his story and apologized. "I'm embarrassed for myself, my family—especially those guys," he said, tearfully. "I was immature and I made a stupid mistake. I'm human. I made a mistake and I definitely learned from this." In the days that followed, Lochte's sponsors dropped him, and he lost multi-million dollar deals with Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Syneron Candela.
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