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Ryan Lochte and Three Teammates Robbed at Gunpoint - New York Times

New York TimesRyan Lochte and Three Teammates Robbed at GunpointNew York TimesRyan Lochte, left, was one of four American swimmers robbed in Rio de Janeiro. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times. RIO DE JANEIRO — Ryan Lochte, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and three of his United States teammates were held up at ...The Latest: Lochte describes robbery by armed men in RioUSA TODAYRyan Lochte among four US swimmers robbed at gunpoint in Rio de JaneiroWashington PostRyan Lochte and Fellow U.S. Olympic Swimmers Robbed at Gunpoint By Individuals Posing as Armed Police OfficersE! OnlineCharlotte Observer -Fox News -Wall Street Journal -Slate Magazine (blog)all 700 news articles »
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Ryan Lochte, left, was one of four American swimmers robbed in Rio de Janeiro. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

RIO DE JANEIRO — Ryan Lochte, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and three of his United States teammates were held up at gunpoint here early Sunday morning, according to the United States Olympic Committee, heightening anxiety over violent crime in the host city of the Summer Games.

The American swimmers and United States Olympic officials provided few details about what had happened, and the state police said they were trying Sunday night to learn more about the incident.

Crime was already a top concern before the Rio Games began, as Brazil’s economic crisis deepened, pushing up unemployment and poverty rates. The Rio state government deployed a huge security force, and the streets surrounding the Olympic Park and the athletes’ village sometimes look like military compounds.

But, nonetheless, crimes have occurred more frequently than at other recent Olympics. On the night of the opening ceremony, the chief of security was mugged at knife point. Two coaches for Australia’s rowing team were attacked and robbed in the Ipanema neighborhood, while some Olympians were robbed of belongings in the athletes’ village during a fire drill. Bullets have landed in the equestrian venue, and a bus carrying members of the news media was attacked, its windows shattered.

On Sunday, Rio Olympics officials were confronted with the most high-profile crime yet.

Besides Lochte, the other United States swimmers robbed, according to a statement from the committee, were Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen.

“Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings,” a spokesman for the U.S.O.C. said. “All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”

The American swimmers robbed on Sunday had left a party at Club France, the French hospitality house established during the Rio Games in the upscale Lagoa neighborhood, the U.S.O.C. spokesman said.

Hugo Sppezapria, a spokesman for Club France, confirmed that the swimmers had spent several hours at a party there, which began at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and lasted until 5 a.m.

The party featured electronic house music, he said, and the group had attended in celebration of another swimmer’s birthday. He estimated that the Americans had left around 3 a.m.

Sppezapria distanced the party from the episode, saying that a police car had been stationed outside Club France all night. “It sounds like a rough situation,” he said. “But it didn’t happen here.”

The civil police in the state of Rio said they were investigating. One of the swimmers had spoken with the police, they said, and given a report of the incident. That swimmer, who was not named by the civil police, said he and his teammates were in a taxi when they were stopped and held up. He told the police he did not know precisely where the robbery took place.

The civil police said the other swimmers would be asked to provide separate accounts. The police were also trying to track down the driver of the taxi.

Bentz, one of the swimmers involved in the incident, declined to comment when reached by The New York Times on Sunday.

Lochte told NBC News that one of the men had put a cocked gun to his head.

“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,” he said. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused — I was like, we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground.

“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead, and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up. I was like, whatever. He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”

“I think they’re all shaken up,” Ileana Lochte, the swimmer’s mother, told USA Today. “They just took their wallets, and basically that was it.”

Bentz and Conger participated in the heats of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, but not the final. Feigen did the same in the 4x100-meter relay.

Lochte won a gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay and finished fifth in the 200-meter individual medley, his only individual event. The swimming competition at the Rio Games had concluded Saturday night.

Lochte initially denied reports of the robbery through Olympic officials.

At a news conference on Sunday, another American swimmer, Ryan Murphy, mentioned the multiple security briefings the team had received before the Games. “I think we all trust our security guys, and they’ve done a great job,” he said.

A spokesman for U.S.A. Swimming declined at the news conference to specify what instructions those briefings had provided but noted that they had included tips on transportation in Rio.

Conflicting accounts of the taxi episode had swirled on Sunday morning, after a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said that reports of the robbery were “absolutely not true,” citing information that had been provided by the United States committee.

After Ileana Lochte’s statements that her son had indeed been robbed, the I.O.C. spokesman said he had simply passed along information from the American Olympic officials. “They said they spoke to Lochte, and he said it wasn’t true,” the spokesman said. “I guess that may change.”

Ryan Lochte’s Twitter feed was silent on the matter; his last post was made Saturday, a picture of him with the snowboarder Shaun White. He did not respond Sunday to a request for comment.

David Marsh, Ryan Lochte’s coach, referred inquiries to U.S.A. Swimming, which did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

“Security in the Games has been absolutely efficient,” Brazil’s Minister of Sport, Leonardo Picciani, was quoted as saying by the newspaper Estadao. “The delegations have not had problems. Those who have bought tickets have not had problems.

“Certainly no athletes have had problems in their places of accommodation, their training facilities and the athlete’s village.”

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