Jimmy Feigen leaves Brazil; teammate recounts incident – USA TODAY
Lochte and three U.S. swimmers said they were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday, with Lochte saying their cab was pulled over by men impersonating police officers.
RIO DE JANEIRO â Jimmy Feigen was on his way back to the United States on Friday night after having his passport returned while another one of the U.S. swimmers who returned home has apologized and given a detailed account of the incident at the gas station.
Feigen did not join Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger when they left Thursday night because he was ordered to donate almost $11,000 to a local sports charity before chargesÂ against him would be dropped and he would be allowed to leave. USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Feigen was able to “secure the release of his passport this evening and is headed home.”
Rio officials are appealing and want the fine increased to about $50,000.
In a statement released through the University of Georgia, where he’s a junior, Bentz said that heÂ “regretted thisÂ situation has drawn attention away from the Olympics, which have been hosted so incredibly well by Brazil and its citizens.” Though he portrayed Lochte as acting aggressively, his statement alsoÂ substantiates what Lochte has previously said.
Lochte has said the four swimmers were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday by men impersonating police officers. Lochte said one of the men even pointed a gun to his forehead and robbed the men of their cash.Â But Rio police said the story was fabricated.
During a newsÂ conference Thursday,Â Fernando Veloso, chief of Rioâs civil police, said the men were drunk and smashed up a gas station bathroom before being confronted by security guards. Veloso said guards flashed a gun to prevent the men from leaving the scene, which ended with the swimmers giving about $55 to pay for the damage.
The International Olympic Committee has opened a disciplinary commission into the four athletes, and they could be sanctioned if wrongdoing is found.
In his statement, Bentz said the fourÂ were on their way back to the Olympic village early Sunday when they stopped at a convenience store to use the restroom. When they did not find a restroom inside, they “foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes,” Bentz said.Â They did see a locked door out back, Bentz said, but he did not see anyone break it open.
Video shot Thursday by USA TODAY showed the bathroom mirror and a soap dispenser were undamaged.
While they were in the area, however, Bentz said Lochte pulled down a framed metal ad that had been loosely anchored to the wall.Â This is similar to what Conger said in his statement to Rio police Thursday. adding that the sign being ripped offÂ “made a lot of noise.”
Bentz said he then suggested they leave, and they returned to the taxi.Two men whom Bentz said he believed to be security guards told them to exit the taxi. As Conger and Feigen walked away from the vehicle, Bentz said one of the guards flashed his badge at him and drew his handgun. As Bentz yelled at Conger and Feigen to return, the second guard drew his weapon.
“Both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk,” Bentz said.
Lochte got up and began yelling at the guards, Bentz said. Conger and he tried to pull him down to the ground, but Lochte had a “heated verbal exchange” with the guards. No physical contact was made, Bentz said.
A bystander who saw the exchange approached the group and offered to translate for the Portuguese-speaking officers.
âThey donât speak English,ââ Fernando Deluz said in an interview with the website globo.com. âI decided to get involved. The moment that they [the swimmers] tried to flee the security approached them. At first I told them âSlow, slow.â I told them to be calm, go slow. They sat down.
âOne of them was very terrified. Very terrified.â
Bentz described the group as being “frightened and confused.” Through the interpreter, Bentz said one of the guards told them they needed to pay in order to leave. He gave them what was in his wallet, a $20 bill, and Feigen gave them 100 reals. The guards lowered their guns and Bentz said he used hand gestures to ask if it was OK to leave.
“I went over and I spoke with (the swimmers) and I said, ‘OK, thatâs OK, bye bye, thank you,ââ Deluz told globo.com.
Video of the incident at the station has appeared on multiple media sites. But Bentz said he is “confident”Â some video angles that would substantiate his account have either not been released by Rio authorities or were skipped over. And no footage of theÂ heated exchange between Lochte and the guards has been seen yet.
Bentz’s apology follows one from Lochte earlier in the day on social media. The 12-time Olympic medalist said he wasÂ sorry for not being “more careful andÂ candid” in how he described events Sunday. Though he did not go into details, Lochte said in a Tweet thatÂ he and three fellow swimmers faced a “traumatic” situation thatÂ involved a language barrier and a stranger pointing a gun at them.
HeÂ accepted responsibility for his role in “taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics.”
“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,” he wrote. “I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided.”
LochteÂ said he wanted to wait until their situations were resolved before issuing a statement. He said that the focus of the Games should now turn back to the athletes who are still competing as the Games near their conclusion this weekend.
“There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happenedÂ last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performance of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes,” he wrote.
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