US swimmers pulled off flight from Rio and ordered to stay for questioning over armed robbery

Jack Conger and Gunnar will not be allowed to leave Brazil until they testify, their lawyer says

Rachael Revesz
New York
Thursday 18 August 2016 08:56
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US swimmers escorted to Rio airport police unit

Two Olympic US swimmers have been removed from a plane at Rio de Janiero airport as the investigation around an alleged robbery continues.

Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, two of the four athletes who claimed they were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday, were escorted off the plane as they were trying to travel home, said US Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky.

A lawyer for the two athletes said they will not be allowed to leave Brazil until they provide testimony to investigators. Sergio Viegas said the athletes left the Rio de Janeiro airport for an unspecified location in Brazil and had yet to testify.

The move follows a judge issuing a search and seizure warrant for them and their colleagues, Ryan Lochte and James Feigen, who claimed they were hauled out of a taxi at gunpoint.

Mr Lochte is already in the US, having left on a commercial flight two days before the warrant was issued, but Mr Feigen is still in Brazil.

Police arrived at the Olympic Village on Wednesday morning to take the swimmers' passports and to gather more testimony from the athletes, Mr Sandusky told CNN, but the swimmers were not there.

He added that the committee would continue to co-operate with the Brazilian police.

Mr Lochte, a Gold medal winner in Rio, has claimed the taxi driver put a gun to his forehead as he and the three others had left a party at the French hospitality house.

However a new video, obtained by the Daily Mail, shows the swimmers laughing and joking around soon after the incident, raising questions about their actions so soon after an alleged violent mugging.

The video also shows them with valuable items, including their wallets, that they said were stolen, and adds to reported inconsistencies in the athletes' testimonies.

Mr Lochte's lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, said his client had fully co-operated with Brazilian authorities before he left the country and that he stands by his original story.

The US Olympic Committee said it will not disclose the remaining three athletes' location in Brazil for their own safety.

Police have asked the taxi driver who carried out the alleged attack to come forward.

Mr Lochte gave a harrowing account of Sunday's events to NBC, claiming men dressed with police badges pulled them over.

"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," he said.

"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 cell phone, he left my credentials."

An International Olympic Committee spokesman said at a press conference on Sunday that the story was "absolutely not true" but he later apologised and said he had relied on incorrect information from the committee.

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