So, what really happened with Ryan Lochte and his teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jimmy Feigen, and Jack Conger early Sunday morning in Rio? It was initially believed that the four U.S. swimmers were held at gunpoint. But the story has suddenly been turned on its head, and Brazilian police detained Conger and Bentz as they tried to leave the country.
On Friday, Bentz released a lengthy statement through his school, the University of Georgia, apologizing to the United States Olympic committee and USA Swimming, as well as making it clear that he "was never a suspect in the case from the beginning" and "never made a false statement to anyone at any time."
The Atlanta, Ga. native also provided a detailed account of what happened on the now infamous night. The initial portion of his story matches with both Conger and the statement given by the United States Olympic Committee. “After attending an event with several swimmers from different nations, I left in a taxicab along with U.S. swimmers Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte around 6 a.m.," Bentz said, in the statement. "On the way back to the Olympic Village, we pulled into a convenience store to use the restroom."
What happens next is where the accounts start differing. "There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes," Bentz confesses. This admission aligns with the one given by Conger, however the USOC claimed that the taxi was stopped by individuals who posed as armed police officers.
Bentz claims that Lochte "pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall," which led to him to suggest that the group leave the area. When they returned to the taxi, they were confronted by two security guards, which can be seen on the surveillance footage obtained by the Brazilian police.
“Two men, whom I believe to have been security guards, then instructed us to exit the vehicle. No guns were drawn during this exchange, but we did see a gun tucked into one of the guard’s waistband. As Jimmy and Jack were walking away from the vehicle, the first security guard held up a badge to me and drew his handgun. I yelled to them to come back toward us and they complied. Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk.
After being told to sit on the sidewalk, Bentz says Lochte got up, and started yelling at the guards. Even though he describes the incident as a "heated verbal exchange," there was no physical contact between both parties. That is when a man believed to be a customer showed up to try and serve as a translator for the U.S. swimmers. "Through the interpreter, one of the guards said that we needed to pay them in order to leave," Bentz said. "I gave them what I had in my wallet, which was a $20 bill, and Jimmy gave them 100 Reals, which is about $50 in total."
Once the four men were allowed to leave the gas station, Gunnar says they walked "about a block down the street and hailed another taxi to return to the Village." Bentz believes that there are additional video angles, which would corroborate his account.
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