After a week in which the after-hours antics of Olympic athletes have overshadowed the medal winners in Rio, USA Swimming has released a statement about the scandal surrounding Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates.
“The last five days have been difficult for our USA Swimming and United States Olympic families,” the statement from Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said. “While we are thankful our athletes are safe, we do not condone the lapse in judgement and conduct that led us to this point. It is not representative of what is expected as Olympians, as Americans, as swimmers and as individuals.”
The statement was in response to Brazilian authorities’ investigation of U.S. Olympic swimmers Lochte (above right, with Michael Phelps), Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and James Feigen on suspicions of faking a story about being robbed at gunpoint while in a Rio taxi on Sunday night.
Rio officials later confirmed that the foursome had not been robbed and instead vandalized a gas station bathroom and were compelled by security guards to pay for the damage.
The police also cited video footage that captured them laughing and smiling as they returned to the Olympic Village from a late-night party after the time they said they were robbed.
Conger and Bentz were removed from a plane from Brazil to the U.S. on Wednesday night for questioning about the incident, while Lochte had returned to America two days earlier. However, Bentz and Conger were rebooked Thursday on those same flights, the USOC said, and they are now heading home.
The incident and the ever-changing accounts of that night dominated Olympics coverage, sparking the hashtag Lochte-Gate.
“That this is drawing attention away from Team USA’s incredible accomplishments in the water and by other athletes across the Olympic Games is upsetting. The athletes and their remarkable stories should be the focus,” Wielgus continued.
“We’re extremely thankful of the support and efforts from the USOC, Department of State and U.S. Consulate General throughout this process. USA Swimming will undergo a thorough review of the incident and determine any further actions, per our Code of Conduct.”