US Swimmer Pays $11,000 To Leave Rio
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
Gold-medal winner Jimmy Feigen, who helped aid fellow swimmer Ryan Lochte’s false accusation of being robbed at gunpoint at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, will pay to get his passport back and leave the country after being detained by Brazilian officials.
Feigen, Lochte and two other U.S. swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, concocted a wild tale of being pulled over in their taxi on Sunday by men posing as police officers. In an interview with Billy Bush on the Today Show, Lochte said the police officers ordered them to get down on the ground. When Lochte refused, one of them “pulled out his gun, he cocked it, and he put it to my forehead,” at which point Lochte said he pulled out his wallet.
Except it wasn’t true.
The story was never confirmed by the United States Olympic Committee nor the International Olympic Committee nor Brazilian police, who were immediately skeptical.
As it turned out, video surveillance was their undoing. Twice. The foursome told police investigating the incident that they left an Olympic hospitality house, Club France, at 4 a.m. Footage shows the foursome leave the party at a later time. Video surveillance also showed the group, apparently intoxicated, stopping at a gas station, which is where their story completely fell apart. As it turned out, the four had damaged the gas station’s bathroom and tried to cover it up with the robbery story.
Officials also become suspicious when reviewing security camera footage of the group arriving back at the Olympic Village at 6:56 a.m., still wearing wristwatches – something authorities said most certainly would have been stolen during a robbery attempt.
"No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed," Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said at a news conference.
Lochte, ironically, was able to get out of Rio before authorities began tracking down the group and seizing passports. He left the country on Wednesday and made it safely home to Charlotte, but his three teammates did not fare as well. Bentz and Conger were literally pulled off an American Airlines plane on the tarmac at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport on Wednesday night.
They were taken to a police station in the airport, interrogated, and found to have not played as big a role in the cover-up as Lochte and Feigen. Bentz and Conger were allowed to leave Rio Thursday night and arrived in Miami this morning.
Feigen paid a higher price.
After checking in online for a flight back to the U.S. on Wednesday, Feigen never showed at the airport. A Brazilian attorney represented him in discussions with authorities over the incident.
"After a long deliberation, this agreement was reached – he will donate 35,000 real (about $10,800) to an institute, and with that the case is resolved," lawyer Breno Melaragno told reporters, though he did not say which charity or institution would receive the money. "After this donation is done, his passport will be given back to him, and he will be free to return home."
"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 in a statement.
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