Olympics

2 U.S. swimmers leave Rio, but robbery scandal with Ryan Lochte not over

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2 U.S. swimmers leave Rio, but robbery scandal with Ryan Lochte not over

Updated: Aug. 19, 2:05 a.m.

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Twenty-four hours after being pulled off a plane by law enforcement, two American Olympic swimmers were on their way home Friday after testifying about an alleged robbery that shocked and then deeply angered Brazilians when police said the story was made up.

Their departure came hours after police announced that Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates had not been held at gunpoint after a night of partying, as he claimed. Instead, police said the men, while intoxicated, vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.

The saga -- which became the biggest spectacle outside of the Olympic gates -- was an embarrassment for American Olympians, who had otherwise dominated the games. It also deeply wounded a country eager to prove it could host the first games in Latin America despite concerns it could not keep athletes and spectators safe from rampant street crime.

"No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed," Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said during a news conference.

As two of the swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were whisked through airport security and onto a plane Thursday night, their attorney insisted they had nothing to do with Lochte's story. Lochte left the country earlier this week.

Bentz and Conger "were heard only as witnesses. This has to be made very, very clear," lawyer Sergio Riera told The Associated Press. "They did not make any untruthful testimony. They did not lie in their statements."

Another swimmer, James Feigen, was hoping to get his passport back to leave the country as soon as possible. A decision on his departure was pending.

Though police appear mostly finished with their probe, the case is far from settled. Police have said they are considering charges of falsely reporting a crime and destruction of property, both of which can carry up to six months in jail or a fine. Lochte's attorney has insisted the story wasn't made up -- but neither he nor Lochte commented on the police account after it unfolded.

The saga began when Lochte said that he and Conger, Bentz and Feigen were held at gunpoint and robbed several hours after the last Olympic swimming races ended. That claim began to unravel when police said that investigators could not find evidence to substantiate it.

Then, security video reviewed by police confirmed the athletes vandalized parts of the gas station, leading to an encounter with station employees.

The video shows one of the swimmers pulling a sign off of a wall and dropping it onto the ground. A gas station worker arrives, and other workers inspect the damage. Veloso said the swimmers broke a door, a soap dispenser and a mirror.

The swimmers eventually talk with station workers and their cab leaves. In another sequence, the swimmers appear to briefly raise their hands while talking to someone and sit down on a curb.

After a few minutes, the swimmers stand up and appear to exchange something -- perhaps cash, as police said -- with one of the men.

The footage doesn't show a weapon, but a police official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said two guards pointed guns at the swimmers. Veloso said the guards did not use excessive force and would have been justified in drawing their weapons because the athletes "were conducting themselves in a violent way."

A station employee called police, and the guards and employees tried to get the swimmers and the taxi driver to stay until authorities arrived, some even offering to help interpret between English and Portuguese, Veloso said. But he said the athletes wanted to leave, so they paid 100 Brazilian reals (about US $33) and $20 in U.S. currency and left.

Police said the swimmers had been unable to provide key details in early interviews, saying they had been intoxicated. The police official said officers grew suspicious when security video showed the swimmers returning to the athletes village wearing watches, which would have likely been taken in a robbery.

Bentz and Conger told police that they felt Lochte had lied about the situation in media interviews, according to text of the statements released by Rio police.

"We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over," Lochte told NBC's "Today" the morning after the incident. "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 cellphone, he left my credentials."

The debacle prompted both wild speculation and social media mockery, which quickly turned to scorn after the official account went public. (hash)LochteGate trended on Twitter, with users sharing video footage and posting comments about white privilege and rude Americans.

David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia, said the incident touched a nerve in Brazil because of the country's history and cases of people committing crimes while impersonating police.

"The story did have some sense of validity but it didn't bear out and it made them look bad worldwide," he said.

That outrage was evident Thursday, as onlookers shouted "liars" and "shameful" at Bentz and Conger as they left a police station where they gave statements.

While he's medaled often, Lochte's accomplishments have long been overshadowed by teammate Michael Phelps -- the most decorated Olympian in history. Lochte, a 12-time medalist, won a gold in Rio in a relay race alongside Phelps.

Lochte and the other swimmers could face sanctions from USA Swimming, including fines or suspension. The group, as well as Olympic officials, publicly expressed disappointment and said they would further examine the matter.

"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," the U.S. Olympic Committee said.

AP reporters Cristiana Mesquita, Beth Harris, Chris Lehourites, Pauline Arrillaga and Renata Brito in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.

Los Angeles reaches deal with Olympic leaders for 2028 Games

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Los Angeles reaches deal with Olympic leaders for 2028 Games

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles has reached an agreement with international Olympic leaders that will open the way for the city to host the 2028 Summer Games.

City Council President Herb Wesson's office confirmed the deal Monday.

Spokeswoman Caolinn Mejza says the pact is expected to be reviewed by the council later this week.

The agreement to be formally announced later Monday follows a vote earlier this month by the International Olympic Committee to seek a deal to award the 2024 and 2028 Games.

Paris is the only city left to host the 2024 Games.

The arrangement would make L.A. a three-time Olympic city, after hosting the 1932 and 1984 Games.

L.A. and Paris were the last two bids remaining after a tumultuous process that exposed the unwillingness of cities to bear the financial burden of hosting an event that has become synonymous with cost overruns.

L.A. was not even the first American entrant in the contest. Boston withdrew two years ago as public support for its bid collapsed over concerns about use of taxpayer cash. The U.S. bid switched from the east to the West Coast as L.A. entered the race.

But the same apprehensions that spooked politicians and the local population in Boston soon became evident in Europe where three cities pulled out.

Uncomfortably for IOC President Thomas Bach, whose much-vaunted Agenda 2020 reforms were designed to make hosting more streamlined and less costly after the lavish 2014 Sochi Games, the first withdrawal came from his homeland of Germany.

The lack of political unity for a bid in Hamburg was mirrored in Rome and Budapest as support for bids waned among local authorities and the population. It was clear they did not want to be saddled with skyrocketing bills for hosting the Olympics without reaping many of the economic benefits anticipated.

Just like in the depleted field for the 2022 Winter Games which saw Beijing defeat Almaty, the IOC was left with only two candidates again.

With two powerful cities left vying for 2024, Bach realized France or the U.S. could be deterred from going through another contest for 2028 if they lost. Bach floated the idea in December of making revisions to the bidding process to prevent it producing "too many losers," building support that led to L.A. and Paris being able to figure out themselves how to share the 2024 and 2028 Games.

The dual award of the games relieves the IOC of having to test the global interest in hosting the Summer Olympics for several years until the 2032 Games are up for grabs.

Ryan Lochte rushed by 2 men on 'Dancing With the Stars' stage

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AP

Ryan Lochte rushed by 2 men on 'Dancing With the Stars' stage

LOS ANGELES -- Ryan Lochte says he feels "a little hurt" after two men were arrested for allegedly rushing the stage following his performance on "Dancing with the Stars."

The two men, wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts, were arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing, Los Angeles police spokesman Officer Mike Lopez said.

They had rushed the stage while Lochte was getting his scores from judge Carrie Ann Inaba for his debut performance during Monday night's live installment of the celebrity ballroom dance competition.

"Hey, back off," Inaba said as the altercation was occurring off screen.

When the show returned, "Dancing with the Stars" host Tom Bergeron explained they were interrupted by "a little incident" and thanked the ABC series' security team "for staying in shape."

The two men were detained by security until police arrived to take them into custody, Los Angeles police spokesman Mike Lopez said. He did not have the men's names.

No one was injured or listed as a victim in the incident, Lopez said.

The swimmer told Bergeron that "so many feelings are going through my head right now." Lochte added that he was "a little hurt, but I came out here. I wanted to do something I'm completely not comfortable with, and I did."

ABC did not immediately return messages seeking comment about the incident.

During the episode, the Olympic medalist performed a foxtrot routine with professional partner Cheryl Burke to "Call Me Irresponsible." They received a combined score from the judges of 24 out of 40.

Lochte and teammates have seen scorn from some since they were involved in an early-morning drunken encounter during the Olympics last month at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They later claimed they were threatened and robbed. United States team officials banned Lochte for 10 months, requiring him to forfeit $100,000 in bonuses and miss the 2017 world championships.