US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte apologized Friday for his behavior with three of his teammates over the weekend at a Rio de Janeiro gas station, where police said at least one of the men vandalized the business and urinated on the premises.
Ryan Lochte apologizes for behavior in Rio
Lochte had originally said that he and fellow swimmers James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were pulled over in their taxi and robbed at gunpoint early Sunday, but police deny a robbery took place.
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“I wanted 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 Friday on Instagram.
He said he accepted responsibility for his role in the case and had “learned some valuable lessons.”
He did not, however, roll back on his allegations the swimmers had been robbed at gunpoint by men posing as police.
Police said that security guards used guns to control the athletes, adding that the Americans were drunk, and took 100 reais ($20) to cover the damage the men caused.
“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,” Lochte said in his on Instagram post.
“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. I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided.”
The public had awaited Lochte’s response after the release of closed-circuit TV footage Thursday that appeared to support at least some of the police’s assertions.
Lochte omitted details that led up to what he called a robbery, some of which appeared in the video footage.
But his apology and the video still do not clear up the biggest question — were the swimmers robbed?
Lochte and police do all agree on one thing: A gun was brandished, and money exchanged hands.
The stories, however, seem to diverge at a single point — when Lochte re-entered a taxi after stopping at the station.
The apology may bring the six-day mystery to a close in a case that quickly spiraled into an international matter involving consular officials, lawyers and judicial orders.
On Wednesday night, authorities took the extraordinary step of pulling Conger and Bentz from their flight home for questioning. The pair returned to Miami on Friday morning.