Brazilian police have recommended charging U.S. Olympic swimming champions Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen with giving false testimony, Brazilian TV said on Thursday, August 18, after authorities accused the pair of lying about being robbed at gunpoint.
The incident has marred South America’s first Games, where the sporting action has been competing for headlines against a series of muggings and armed robberies of high-profile athletes and visitors, including two government ministers.
Lochte, one of America’s most decorated swimmers, returned to the United States on Monday but police have said that Feigen is still in Brazil.
They and two team mates, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were involved in the incident at a Rio gas station where Lochte said they had been robbed at gunpoint – a version that was denounced on Thursday by Rio de Janeiro‘s police chief.
“There was no robbery as the swimmers described it,” civil police chief Fernando Veloso told a news conference.
Reuters could not immediately verify the GloboNews report that police were recommending prosecutors charge Lochte and Feigen with falsely reporting a crime.
The offence is not punishable by prison, Veloso said, though Brazil’s penal code stipulates offenders can receive up to six months in prison or a fine.
Neither Lochte nor Feigen could be immediately contacted for comment. Bentz and Conger gave testimony at a Rio police on Thursday and later walked from the building to the jeers of a waiting crowd who shouted “Liars” and “Fakes”.
It was unclear if Bentz and Conger could now leave Brazil. Police seized their passports on Wednesday night after pulling them off a U.S.-bound flight in Rio international airport.
Police began investigating the incident after Lochte told U.S. television the four had been robbed by gunmen impersonating police officers who pulled over their taxi in the early hours of Sunday, as they returned to the Athletes’ Village from a party.