U.S. Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte was en route back to the U.S. Olympic village with three other US swimmers when his taxi was stopped and robbed by armed men posing as police on the streets of Rio de Janerio.
32-year-old Lochte has an impressive 12 medals around his neck and is the second-most decorated male Olympic swimmer of all time, behind Michael Phelps.
Riding with Lochte were Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen. The men had been at a hospitality house hosted by France early Sunday and were heading out to the Olympic Village when the car was “stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.
“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a police badge, no lights, no nothing — just a police badge and they pulled us over,” Lochte told NBC. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground.
“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
Although the police are looking into the incident, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee initially said the armed robbery ‘never happened’. When asked about the IOC’s initial statement claiming Lochte was a liar, a spokesman for USA Swimming said: “You’d have to direct that to the IOC.”
Now, officials’ concern turns to the safety of the thousands of athletes who will be touring the city of 6.5 million now that their events are completed.
Perhaps next time the IOC looks at cities to host the Olympics, they do a little more research into how safe the athletes will be in it rather than counting the ways they can benefit from choosing it for their own greed.