Latin America & Caribbean

US swimmer Bentz speaks out over Ryan Lochte's actions in Rio

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Media captionFootage was released purportedly showing four US swimmers at a petrol station in Rio

One of the US swimmers caught up in a scandal over a made-up robbery at the Olympics says that he cannot explain team-mate Ryan Lochte's actions.

Gunnar Bentz was one of two swimmers who were pulled off a flight in Rio de Janeiro and questioned by police.

He apologised in a statement released by the University of Georgia.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has set up a disciplinary commission to investigate the incident and the four athletes' behaviour.

Mr Lochte had claimed that he and a group of fellow US swimmers had been robbed at a petrol station.

But CCTV footage contradicted that story, showing the men had vandalised the petrol station.

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Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gunnar Bentz (L) and Jack Conger arrived in Miami on Friday after being questioned by police in Rio

Mr Bentz's account of the incident stressed that he was a witness, not a suspect. He said he had never made a false statement "to anyone at any time".

His account continued:

  • He and the other Team USA swimmers Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen and Jack Conger were in a taxi on the way back to the Olympic Village at about 06:00
  • They pulled in to a shop to use the toilet but as there was none, they "foolishly" relieved themselves behind some bushes
  • He did not see anyone breaking open a locked door at the back of the building
  • Mr Lochte pulled a metal advertisement in a frame to the ground, but Mr Conger said he was "unsure why"
  • When the swimmers returned to the taxi, two men who Mr Bentz thought were security guards told them to exit the car
  • The first time a gun was drawn was when Mr Conger and Mr Feigen were walking away from the car - all the swimmers were told to sit on the pavement
  • Mr Lochte "stood up and began to yell at the guards" and Mr Bentz "cannot speak to his actions"
  • A passer-by helped translate from Portuguese to English and with his help the swimmers understood that they should pay money if they wished to leave
  • They handed the guards about $50 (£38) in a mix of US and Brazilian currency, and then they left

Mr Bentz apologised and said: "I regret this situation has drawn attention away from the Olympics, which have been hosted so incredibly well by Brazil and its citizens.

"Without question, I am taking away a valuable life lesson from this situation. In everything I do, I am representing my family, my country and my school. I will not take that responsibility lightly."

How the story evolved

Sunday 14 August

  • Ryan Lochte's mother tells US media her son has been robbed in Rio de Janeiro
  • Mr Lochte gives an account of the events, saying he and the other swimmers were returning by taxi from a club in the early hours of the morning when they were robbed at gunpoint by men who forced the vehicle to pull over
  • The swimmers do not report the incident to police or to the US Olympic Committee, and police officers only get involved after seeing TV reports

Monday 15 August

  • Police investigating the case say there are inconsistencies in the men's accounts

Tuesday 16 August

  • CCTV footage emerges of the men's return to the athletes' village showing them laughing and joking, and handing over wallets and phones as they go through the security screens

Wednesday 17 August

  • Ryan Lochte admits there were inaccuracies in his original account of being robbed at gunpoint, but vehemently denies making the story up
  • Judge orders that the passports of the four men be seized before it emerges that Mr Lochte has already left for the US
  • Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger taken off a US-bound plane at Rio de Janeiro airport

Thursday 18 August

  • Brazilian police sources tell media outlets that the men invented a story about a robbery to disguise a dispute over a damaged bathroom door at a petrol station in Barra da Tijuca, 16km (10 miles) from the Olympic Park
  • CCTV video emerges that appears to show the athletes being detained and ordered to sit on the ground
  • Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger enter a Rio police station for questioning
  • Head of Rio's civil police emphatically denies a robbery took place, saying the case centred around an incident of vandalism and payment for damage

Friday 19 August

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ryan Lochte competed in the 200m individual medley event in Rio

Who are the swimmers?

Lochte is one of the most successful swimmers in history, with 12 Olympic medals, and he once had his own reality television show in the US. In Rio, he swam in two events, winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay along with Conger.

Feigen won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Bentz competed in the 4x200m preliminaries, but not the final. He still received a gold medal after the US team's win.

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