RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Three American Olympic swimmers planned to meet with Brazilian law enforcement Thursday to discuss a reported robbery targeting 12-time medalist Ryan Lochte and his teammates, a U.S. Olympic Committee official said.
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were released by local authorities after being pulled from a flight at the Rio de Janeiro airport, with the understanding that discussions would continue amid uncertainty over what truly took place during a late outing the night Olympic swimming wrapped up at the Rio Games.
Fellow teammate Jimmy Feigen also plans to talk to officials as he navigates a judge's order that keeps him in Brazil, Sandusky said. Court officials had called for the four swimmers' passports to be seized, but Lochte already had returned to the United States before authorities could enforce the decision.
Rio police investigator Marcelo Carregosa told an Associated Press reporter Thursday that officials hoped to resolve the case today. He didn't provide details.
A lawyer for Conger and Bentz said Thursday that they won't be allowed to leave Brazil until they provide testimony to investigators. The swimmers didn't speak to reporters as they left the airport, shuttled away in a black car. They departed for an unspecified location in Brazil and had yet to testify, said attorney Sergio Riera.
Reached Thursday in Austin, Texas, Feigen attorney Mark Hull said: "We don't have any comment yet at this point."
Representatives from the U.S. consulate arrived at the airport shortly after the swimmers were stopped from leaving the country Wednesday night. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the agency was ready to "to provide all appropriate consular assistance," referring further questions to Brazilian officials.
The action comes amid increasing tension between Brazilian authorities and the American swimmers over the ever-changing account of the robbery. Police say they have found little evidence so far to support the claims and that the swimmers were unable to provide key details in interviews. The office of Judge Keyla Blanc, who ordered the passports seized, said there were discrepancies in the statements by the swimmers.
Lochte has said he was with Conger, Bentz and Feigen when they were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with a police badge as they returned to the athletes village from a party several hours after the final Olympic swimming events on Saturday.
NBC reported Wednesday night that Lochte backed off some of his earlier claims about the robbery. He now says the taxi wasn't pulled over by men with a badge but rather the athletes were robbed after stopping at a gas station, NBC reported. Lochte also said the assailant pointed a gun at him rather than putting it to his head.
The U.S. Olympic Committee said police went to the athletes village to try to collect the passports, but the swim team had already moved out.