Ryan Lochte Apologizes Over Rio Robbery Scandal: "I Should Have Been More Responsible"

Swimmer is currently in America after competing at the 2016 games

By Lily Harrison, Samantha Schnurr Aug 19, 2016 2:25 PMTags

Ryan Lochte is saying sorry. 

After continually publicly claiming to have been a victim of an armed robbery during a night out with his fellow U.S. Olympic swimming teammates, the gold medalist has issued a lengthy statement regarding the unfolding Olympic scandal.

"I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend—for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics," he said in a statement shared on social media Friday morning.

As for why he hadn't spoken publicly sooner, "I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely," he penned.

"It's traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country—with a language barrier—and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors and the hosts of this great event," he continued. "I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned from valuable lessons."

"I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio '16 Host Committee, and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that these Olympic Games provided a lifetime of great new memories," the statement concluded. "There has alredy been too much said and too many valuale resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes."

Ryan Lochte Hanging with Celebrities
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

The apology comes on the heels of a press conference held Thursday, where Chief of Civil Police of Rio Fernando Veloso told reporters that the police were unable to confirm that there had been a robbery the way it was claimed by the athletes based on surveillance footage obtained from the gas station and further testimonies.

Veloso described a different account, saying the athletes had caused damage in the bathroom of the Shell gas station and, when approached by gas attendees, tried to get in their taxi and leave. According to the official, the attendees asked the taxi driver not to leave and wait for the police to arrive, but the athletes refused to stay there. During that time, a third person offered to interpret from Portuguese to English and told the athletes they had to pay for the damage, so they paid with a $20 dollar bill and 100 Brazilian reals and left before the police arrived. 

After being detained at a local airport while leaving the Rio Games, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz told authorities the robbery story was, in fact, "fabricated," the Associated Press reported via CNBC. During the presser, Veloso noted that a swimmer had confirmed the version of the new story. While Veloso said there was no physical or verbal violence that could have lead the swimmers to think they were victims of a robbery, he did say they were asked to sit on the floor by the attendees and that there was use of a firearm to control them while they were visibly intoxicated. 

Olympic Swimmer James Feigen Agrees to Pay $11,000 to Leave Rio

Initially, Lochte told Today's Billy Bush that he, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and James Feigen were being driven home in Rio when their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded that the athletes hand over their belongings and money.

Lochte then later told Matt Lauer: "I wouldn't make up a story like this nor would the others. 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."

Lochte's lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, stood by his client's story when he told the AP, "This happened the way he described it. Ryan was one 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."

Athletes Crying at the 2016 Rio Olympics