While Ryan Lochte earned a gold medal in Rio for the Men's 4x200m freestyle relay (making him the second most decorated swimmer in Olympic history after teammate Michel Phelps), it's his robbery allegations that are generating global headlines.
Click through for everything we've learned from Lochte-gate!
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Reports that the US athlete was allegedly held up at gun point with teammates broke on August 14, but was soon after denied by the International Olympic Committee.
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The swimmer's mom confirmed the robbery to USA Today on Sunday morning saying, “I think they’re all shaken up. There were a few of them." She noted, "They just took their wallets and basically that was it.”
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Hours after the alleged incident, Today show's Billy Bush landed an exclusive interview with the Olympic champion to discuss the alleged incident, which occurred in Rio with his fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen after leaving a party at France House.
"We got pulled over in our taxi and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge. No lights, no nothing, just a police badge. They pulled us over, they pulled out their guns. They told the other swimmers to get down on the ground, they got down on the ground," he told the TV host. "I refused. I was like 'We didn't do anything wrong so I'm not getting down on the ground.'"
"The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and said 'get down.' I was like (puts hands up) I put my hands up. I was like 'whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet," Ryan added. "He left my cellphone, he left my credential."
On Sunday afternoon, Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for the US Olympic Committee, released a statement regarding the incident. He said, “According to four members of the US Olympic Swimming Team (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte), they left France House early Sunday morning in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village," The statement continued, "Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”
Photo: Getty Images for USOC
US swimmer Gunnar Bentz, who was out with Ryan the evening of the robbery, posted a tweet on Sunday afternoon about the alleged incident writing, "We are all safe. Thank you for your love and support."
Later that day, Ryan released his own statement on social media addressing the robbery, noting that what is "most important" is that neither him nor his teammates were harmed.
Police began investigating the incident. However on August 16, they said that there was little evidence to support the swimmer's story and that the victims were unable to provide key details in their interview with officials.
Ryan told USA Today that day that he and his fellow teammates initially did not tell the US Olympic Committee "because we were afraid we'd get in trouble."
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On August 17, a Brazilian judge ordered a search and seizure warrant for US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and teammate James Feigen's passports, however, the swimmers had already moved out of the Olympic Village before the officials arrived.
The USOC released another statement saying, "Local police arrived at the Olympic Village this a.m. and asked to meet with Ryan Lochte and James Feigen and collect their passports in order to secure further testimony from the athletes. The swim team moved out of the village after their competition ended, so we were not able to make the athletes available."
They added, "Additionally, as part of our standard security protocol, we do not make athlete travel plans public and therefore cannot confirm the athletes’ current location."
Ryan's father confirmed to the Associated Press that his son was already back on US soil. The swimmer had returned prior to the judge's order to remain in Brazil for the investigation. Steve Lochte told the AP that his son called him on Tuesday after arriving back in the states and that he was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one that had been stolen in the robbery.
"I'm just happy he's safe," Steve said. "It was an unfortunate experience for him and the other three. I don't know what all the controversy is. They were basically taken out of the taxi and robbed. The main thing is he's very lucky that he's safe and that all they got was his cash and wallet."
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US swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were pulled off their states-bound flight by Brazilian authorities on Wednesday evening. An attorney for the two said that Gunnar and Jack were ordered to stay in Brazil until they give a statement to police about the reported robbery.
Teammate James Feigen was not on the flight with the two men, but was still in Brazil at the time. A spokesperson for the USOC said in a statement, "Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained Wednesday night shortly before their flight was scheduled to depart from Rio. They were released by local authorities with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday. James Feigen is also communicating with local authorities and intends to make further statements regarding the incident on Thursday as well."
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Ryan defended his account of the robbery during a phone conversation with Today host Matt Lauer on Thursday. Though Matt revealed to NBC's Bob Costas that the swimmer had tweaked his story a tad.
Matt said, "[Ryan] stuck to most of the story. He did change one thing. I would say he softened some things, or stepped back. One thing he did not say this time. He didn’t say he was pulled over by these people pretending to be police. They had gone to the bathroom in a gas station. They got back to the taxi and when they told the taxi driver to ‘go,’ he didn’t move. They said ‘let’s go again, we have got to get out of here’ and again the taxi driver didn’t move. And that is when he says two men approached the car with guns and badges and told them to get out and get on the ground. The three other swimmers, that you mentioned, did get on the ground. They sat on the curb. Lochte did not. He said ‘I have no reason to get on the ground.’"
As for those who question whether he fabricated the story to coverup "some other form of embarrassing behavior," Matt said, "He stopped me quickly. He strongly denied that. He said it is absolutely not the case. ‘I wouldn’t make up a story like this, nor would the others. As a matter of fact we all feel it makes us look bad. We are victims in this and we are happy that we are safe.’"
Matt added, "[Ryan] also said something interesting, Bob. He said originally he didn’t want to tell this story because he and the other swimmers felt that they had broken some kind of a rule of either the USOC or the swim team by being out at that hour and drinking. It was only after he realized that in fact being 21-years-old that they hadn’t broken any rules, that he decided to tell the story in the first place.”
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On Thursday the USOC released a statement saying, "The three US Olympic swimmers (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen) are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities. All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio.”
Later in the day, a Brazilian police official told the Associated Press that Ryan Lochte's teammates Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz told police that the robbery story was fabricated.
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The swimmers' story was a coverup for an altercation that occurred at a gas station with an armed security guard after they broke down a locked bathroom door. The gas station manager demanded that they pay for the damages, which they did before leaving. A video of the swimmers at the station has since emerged.
"Unfortunately, the swimmers told one lie after another," a Brazilian police official told The New York Times. "We've been able to determine that there was no armed assault."
After the video was made public, the USOC released a statement apologizing to the people of Brazil. They said, "On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence."
Swimmer Jimmy Feigen is sticking to his story following the news of his teammates' confessions. He told the San Antonio Express News, "We were robbed at gunpoint. It sounds like people assume we’re guilty." He is expected to release a statement later today.
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After footage surfaced showing the US swimmers at the gas station that they reportedly vandalized, a source spoke out to People magazine saying that three minutes are actually missing from the video.
"The video backs up what they're saying," the source said. "There are three minutes in the middle of the video that are missing, that no one has picked up on. The video does not show them running out of the bathroom – if they had trashed it don't you think they'd be running? There is no footage that has been released that has them smashing up a bathroom."
"The man dressed in policeman's uniform tells them to sit on the floor they hand over money and are held up with a gun," the source added. "From their perspective it reinforces what the swimmers have been saying."
Photo: Globo via People.com
Olympic swimmers Jack Conger (L) and Gunnar Bentz landed on US soil on Friday. The pair arrived at Miami International airport in the early morning. Jack and Gunnar were originally supposed to fly out of the Olympic host city on Wednesday, but were pulled off their flight and taken in for questioning regarding the alleged robbery.
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On Friday, NBC News reported that swimmer Jimmy Feigen reached a deal to donate a lump sum of money in order to leave Brazil. The American athlete will reportedly donate almost $11,000 to Instituto Reacao, a sports academy for kids. As part of the agreement, the Olympic champ will have his passport returned to him.
"After a long deliberation, this agreement was reached … he will donate 35,000 real [approximately $10,800] to an institute, and with that the case is resolved," Jimmy's lawyer Breno Melaragno told reporters. "After this donation is done, his passport will be given back to him, and he will be free to return home."
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Following the release of the gas station video and his teammates return to American soil, swimmer Ryan Lochte has released a statement regarding his "behavior" in Rio. The gold medalist took to social media to address the alleged robbery incident.
"I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend—for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics. I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely."
"It's traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country—with a language barrier—and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, 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 continued. "I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned from valuable lessons."
Ryan wrapped the statement saying, "I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio '16 Host Committee, and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that these Olympic Games provided a lifetime of great new memories. There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes."
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After returning home from Rio on Friday, Gunnar Bentz released his first public statement about the robberies. The 20-year-old said that he never lied about being robbed at gunpoint and that his story has always been "consistent with the account I gave to the Brazilian authorities."
In his statement, the Georgia University athlete addressed the videos that have been released showing the four swimmers at the gas station. "Videos of this situation have been emerging the last several days. However, I am confident that some video angles have not been shown that would further substantiate my account. I also believe some scenes have been skipped over," he said in his statement.
Gunnar also added that he is "anxious to put this matter behind me and rejoin my Georgia teammates in classes, practices and competitions."
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In his first TV interview since the Brazilian authorities accused him of making up his robbery story, Ryan Lochte admitted that he was “still intoxicated” when he gave his first statement to the police.
The 32-year-old admitted to NBC's Matt Lauer that he “left details out” and that he felt ashamed. The swimmer became visibly emotional when he was asked about how he felt when he discovered his teammates had been detained in Rio.
”I let my team down and, you know I wanted to be there. I don't want them to think I left them and left them out to dry. They are my teammates and I wanted to be there. I just wanted to make sure they were home safe before I came out to talk.”
Photo: Getty Images
Ryan is already feeling the repercussions of his Rio incident. Amid his scandal, Speedo USA has ended its sponsorship deal with Ryan Lochte. In a statement the company said, "Speedo USA today announces the decision to end its sponsorship of Ryan Lochte. As part of this decision, Speedo USA will donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte's fee to Save the Children, a global charity partner of Speedo USA's parent company, for children in Brazil."
They added, "While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for. We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience."
Ryan responded to the loss of his endorsement in a statement saying, "I respect Speedo's decision and am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years." He continued, "I am proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved together."
Photo: Ryan Liu/FilmMagic
After the loss of Speedo, it was announced that Ralph Lauren would also be ending their relationship with the Olympic swimmer.
The label released a statement that read: "Ralph Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody. Ralph Lauren's endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract."
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
After losing sponsors Speedo and Ralph Lauren for "over-exaggerating" his Rio story, Ryan was cut by two other commercial companies: Airweave and Gentle Hair Removal. On Monday August 22, Airweave, a Japanese mattress manufacturer said it had "ended its partnership" with the Olympic swimmer.
Meanwhile, Syneron-Candela, the parent company of Gentle Hair Removal for which Ryan served as a spokesperson said in a statement to USA Today: "We hold our employees to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners," adding, "We wish Ryan well on his future endeavors and thank him for the time he spent supporting our brand.”
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Ryan Lochte might be dancing his way to a new gold award soon. USA Today reports that the Olympic swimmer will be starring in the upcoming 23rd season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. The deal was reportedly set before the champion's drama in Rio unfolded.
DWTS premieres September 12.
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After losing his sponsorships with four major companies, things are looking up for the US swimmer. Ryan has now signed with Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops and will appear in ads that have the theme of forgiveness as they are "forgiving on your throat."
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According to multiple reports, Ryan Lochte has been suspended from swimming for ten months by the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming following his scandal in Rio. He will also not be allowed to participate in the 2017 world swimming championship. The Olympian admitted back in August that he had made a “very big mistake” in claiming he had been robbed at gunpoint during the summer games.
“It was still hours after the incident and I’m not one to make excuses, but I was still intoxicated,” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America . “I was still going through the emotions of having a gun pulled on me. I’m human. I made a mistake and that's something I'm going to have to live with.”
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