Swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his American teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Brazil early Sunday morning, the U.S. Olympic Committee said.
“According to four members of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte), they left France House early Sunday morning in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. “Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”
Lochte and Feigen both have lived in Charlotte and trained at SwimMAC Carolina during this Olympic cycle, and each won a gold medal in a relay at these Olympics. The event at France house was a birthday celebration that the swimmers were attending.
Lochte told NBC’s Billy Bush, “We got pulled over in our taxi and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge. No lights, no nothing, just a police badge. They pulled us over. They pulled out their guns.”
The swimmers were ordered to get down on the ground, Lochte said. The others did but Lochte refused, he told NBC, and then one of the robbers “pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up. I was like ‘whatever.’ ”
Lochte said the robbers took his wallet and the other swimmers’ cash, but left him with his Olympic credentials and cell phone.
Ileana Lochte, Ryan’s mother, told the Observer via text message on Sunday afternoon: “Not really sure what happened but he is OK and really that is all I care about.” The incident first received widespread attention when Ileana Lochte disclosed it to USA Today Sports.
American swimmer Michael Phelps said Sunday he wasn’t at the party and was startled when he heard the news. “I kind of said, ‘Excuse me?’ I couldn’t believe it,” Phelps said, adding that he had been to Brazil many times and had “felt safe every time I’ve come here.”
Lochte finished his Olympics last week, winning his 12th overall Olympic medal – a gold – in the 4x200 relay with the U.S. team but then placing fifth in his only individual event. It was his most unproductive Olympics ever.
After living and training in Charlotte the past three years, Lochte said Friday that he plans to move to the West Coast by “September or October.” He said he wanted to take some time off from swimming and eventually return to training again in preparation for a run at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, when he would be 36.
Lochte said his two most likely training sites after an extended vacation were California and Florida. He did not mention Charlotte in his future plans.
Scott Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org; @scott_fowler