Ryan Lochte denies making up the mugging story, but does clarify some details

Just to be clear: I believe Ryan Lochte and three other swimmers were mugged. I think they were legitimately shaken up about it and I also think that they never really expected their story to become the flash-point of an international incident between Brazilian and American relations. While there are questions about parts of their story, it’s totally bizarre to me that Brazilian authorities are treating alleged victims of an armed robbery like they (the swimmers) are the criminals. It’s totally bizarre that two Americans – who had already passed through customs enforcement!! – were yanked off a plane to be detained indefinitely by Brazilian authorities. This whole thing has just become so messy. So, now that Ryan Lochte is safely back on American soil, he called Matt Lauer to talk about what really went down.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is standing by his robbery story despite accusations from authorities that he lied about being held at gunpoint during a night out in Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In a telephone interview Wednesday night with Today anchor Matt Lauer, the 32-year-old swimming champ balked at skepticism that his story may have been fabricated.

“He strongly denied that [he made it up] – said it’s absolutely not the case,” Lauer said.

“I wouldn’t make up a story like this nor would the others,” Lauer said, quoting Lochte. “As a matter of fact, we all feel it makes us look bad. We’re victims in this and we’re happy that we’re safe.”

Lochte returned to U.S. soil earlier this week, after reports surfaced that a Brazilian judge requested the athlete turn over his passport and remain in the country. He told Lauer that no one told him he should stay in Brazil, and that he had previously told authorities he would cooperate. His basic account of the crime remained the same when he recounted it to Lauer – though a few small details had changed, Lauer said during NBC Sports coverage of the Olympics Wednesday night. Earlier in the week, Lochte claimed that he and three other Team USA swimmers – James Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger – were held at gunpoint after robbers posing as police officers pulled them over in their taxi in Rio. He told NBC’s Billy Bush on Sunday – hours after the alleged robbery – that the gun was put against his forehead.

But talking to Lauer on Wednesday, Lochte clarified that the gun was pointed in his general direction but that the weapon was cocked. According to Lauer, Lochte did not repeat the part of the story where his taxi was pulled over by robbers, instead saying that they were in a gas station when the attack happened. Explained Lauer: “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’ve got to get out of here.’ And again – the taxi driver didn’t move. And that’s when he says two men approached the car with guns and badges.”

The swimmers were then ordered out of the car and forced onto the ground, Lochte told Lauer.

[From People]

Lochte also told Lauer that the Brazilian police “did not question his truthfulness” and he said that he “wouldn’t make this story up.” As for the theory – which, can I just say, there is no evidence of – that Lochte and the other swimmers were doing something wrong/illegal/embarrassing, Lochte says that “No that did not happen.” Considering Lochte was Snapchatting that night and it was clear that he was partying at Club France, as he always said, why do people disbelieve that?

Hilariously, Billy Bush came to Lochte’s defense this morning too, saying what I said yesterday, which is that Lochte is sort of too stupid to make up this kind of story. Bush said: “He’s not the kind that can weave a brilliant tale. He could not have invented the whole thing.” That’s the best way to say it, Billy Bush!

Update: ABC News is reporting that a “Brazilian police source” claims that one of the American swimmers “fought” with a security guard on the night in question. Okay. Prove it. Or is this video like the video “proof” of the swimmers arriving back at the Olympic village with their IDs and phones (which they never claimed were stolen in the first place)?

Update #2: The Brazilian police have now released their “video evidence” that they say shows an American swimmer doing damage to a gas station bathroom, but all the footage shows is two athletes sort of jogging down a hallway. You can see the full video here. It does not show what the Brazilian authorities claim it shows.


Photos courtesy of Twitter, NY Post, Getty.

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54 Responses to “Ryan Lochte denies making up the mugging story, but does clarify some details”

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  1. HH says:

    This is all getting out of hand. In the age of the Internet, it will be forgotten. Rio police should have said we’re looking into it and let it die down, even if there was no evidence. The insistence on calling it a lie, stopping people from leaving the country is too much. I get that it’s a matter of national pride, but they’re just fueling the fire at this point.

    • Pandy says:

      National pride? Brazil has 60,000 murders a year … What’s one more crime? This all smells odd. If the swimmers didn’t report the crime, how is that an offence?

  2. Lucy says:

    I believe him too. Anyone can even think of a reason why he would make this up?

    • Esmom says:

      I saw lots of “reasons” thrown out yesterday, from prostitutes, drugs, even that Ryan was trying to cover up cheating so his girlfriend wouldn’t be mad.

      But I tend to believe the athletes are telling the truth. They hadn’t even planned to report it — it was Lochte’s mom who blew the whistle. It seems insane they are being detained. I agree with HH above that the situation has gotten way out of hand.

      • V4Real says:

        But why tell his mom or anyone at all if he got robbed trying to pick up hookers? If all they took was his wallet and cash he didn’t have to say anything. It’s just a wallet and money that can be replaced. He said on the news that they were able to keep their medals and credentials. Even if credit cards were in their wallets they could cancel those with a quick phone call since the muggers didn’t take their cell phones. If I got robbed trying to buy drugs or hookers I wouldn’t tell anyone about it and try to put that night out of my mind. Lesson learned.

        The only way I can see him telling his mom is because he just needed someone close to tell about his quick brush with death. But either way they were robbed so that’s not the lie.

        I know people who have been robbed at gun point and they spilled the beans later to friends. My question was why didn’t you go to the cops. Answer, because I was trying to buy coke or weed.

    • MC2 says:

      I thought Kaiser’s article yesterday was great when she pointed out that this is the same treatment that female victims of male violence face everyday. Why the hell would they make it up? What would someone wake up and think “hmmm- today I am going to pretend to be brutalized & really screw up peoples lives for fun because…..” But some people just go to the jerk reactions that people are inherently liars & they try to ‘figure out’ what must have happened ala watching a CSI show or something. I saw it on the comments yesterday and really scratched my head. It’s a phenomenon that really makes me sad and puzzled but I think it says more about the commenters who assume no one would tell the truth then what it says about the victims. My only silver lining is that we are seeing this about powerful men so people are seeing how asinine this kind of thinking or knee jerk reaction is.

      • Naya says:

        But is anyone here actually saying they werent robbed? Afaik, we are saying they were but are hiding certain details. Meanwhile, the Brazillians are reacting as they are because they can see the holes in the story. Nobody is victim blaming here. What I do see, is a overly nationalistic knee jerk reaction to cops in a foreign country doing their jobs. Being an American citizen shouldnt mean that you are exempt from the investigative procedures of the country you are in.

      • MC2 says:

        Yes there are people questioning if they were robbed at all. Above are a few theories- drugs, prostitutes, he was cheating. Commenters on these threads have said that if they were robbed then the robbers would have taken all their things but the video shows that they still had their credentials so they must not have been robbed.

        I have an issue with victims coming forward and the response is acting like THEY are attacking. These men said they were robbed & people went on the attack & got defensive from the get go- before Rio asked them not to leave. Kasier commented on it yesterday and I whole hardheartedly agree.

      • Sixer says:

        MC2 – well, it turns out they may not have been robbed at all. It turns out that they were detained because they are actually suspects in committing crimes of their own. It turns out that Brazilian police seem to have investigated correctly.

        So in fact, it also seems that the parallel would be more the way in which people turn out to defend the PERPETRATORS of DV because the perp is one of their own and so any excuse is made, including rubbishing the other party. Cos that’s what’s happened frequently here. Brazil has been traduced to the nth degree in an all-out effort to disbelieve that popular US athletes could actually be total and utter arseholes while abroad. Brazil may well have its problems – all countries do – but in this case, it turns out that the US athletes were the problem.

      • perplexed says:

        “Being an American citizen shouldnt mean that you are exempt from the investigative procedures of the country you are in.”

        I think citizens being detained and asked to confiscate their passports is strange if they’re not the ones that committed the crime. Like, if Brazil asked Bill Cosby to surrender his passport, I’d get it. I don’t understand it in this case since they’re not the perpetrators of the crime (this is with my current understanding of them having been allegedly robbed. I know there are claims being made that they fought with police, but all I keep seeing are stories from sources rather than any actual video, which I can’t find. Perhaps someone can post a link to it).

      • MC2 says:

        Sixer- what little entitled creeps if they damaged the bathroom & lied about it. I heard that the security who made them pay money may have had a weapon & had them exit the taxi to give up cash? I can see how Ryan tried to spin the story but he forgot the part about damaging the ‘robbers’ property first. The whole thing sounds like a mess.

        What drove me nuts yesterday was seeing arm chair decisions and knee jerk reactions that they must be lying. We didn’t know the details of the case until now but some people jumped to conclusions & made extreme comments right off the bat. Most victims of violence are met with strong resistance & an unnecessary burden when they come forward & it’s a sore spot for me.

      • Sixer says:

        MC2 – I apologise if I came on strong. I was late to the story on here and when scanning the first of the posts after most people had commented, I was really shocked at the levels of xenophobia on display. It can’t be our boys because – insert any and every excuse possible, including trashing Brazil to pieces. I almost fainted because this site is generally a place you can point to gainsay the ugly American stereotype, full of thoughtful and outward-looking commenters. Even now, on yesterday’s other thread, people are excusing the athletes with the language barrier excuse.

        I like to think I’m humorous and pleasant online mostly and not rude, but I think I had a bit of a sense of humour bypass here. I meant all things I’ve said about this but I apologise if I was rude about it. I take back any rudeness and will do better in future!

  3. C says:

    I’m Brazilian… I believe them. Why they would lie about it?

  4. Luca76 says:

    Boy is Brazil screwing this up in making a minor story into an international embarrassment. Considering all the problems they are facing there is much better use of their resources and time then to badger these guys.

  5. Kinnakee says:

    I just saw on the news that they actually asked de taxi driver to stop at a gas station because they wanted to use the restroom, they ended up damaging the facilities and wanted to leave without refunding the owner. There’s video footage from security cameras as evidence. So the “robbed” money was probably what they gave to the owner because of the damage they caused…

    • paranormalgirl says:

      That doesn’t make sense. There would be no need to report anything to anyone if they paid for the “damage.” These aren’t little kids who need to report why they came back without any money.

    • Lostmymind says:

      Is this the same gas station owner who said yesterday that he never saw the swimmers at his gas station? And now suddenly he has a different story? Could he possibly have been bought? And I highly doubt we’ll ever see this video.

      • Hazel says:

        Yeah, it makes no sense. And if a customer damages your property, you file a claim with your insurance, not shake down the customer.

    • V4Real says:

      Yeah it doesn’t make sense. They also claimed the video cameras caught the men laughing and joking after the robbery. If you look at that footage you can sort of see that they were not laughing or joking around.

    • Rachel says:

      I watched the video Kaiser linked to. It mentions there’s another video showing one of the swimmers breaking down the bathroom door and doing damage… if they’re so keen to release video making these guys look guilty of a crime, why didn’t they release that one? And the video they did release is hyped as the swimmers “running” through the gas station. I didn’t see anyone running. Was the video running in slomo when I watched it??

  6. ncboudicca says:

    I should hope that he’s getting some kind of official guidance – it seems to me that the “right” thing to do would be to make arrangements to visit the Brazilian Embassy and be interviewed there. He has compatriots stuck in Brazil and needs to help bring this to a close as quickly as possible.

    • Esmom says:

      It does seem slightly shady that he skedaddled out of town ahead of the other guys. Although I can’t blame him for wanting to get the heck outta there.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        He might have had plans to return to the US on that date. It’s not like it’s easy to book a last minute flight out of Rio during the Olympics, no matter who you are.

    • Noname says:

      I wouldn’t go back to Brazil if I was Ryan Lochte.

      • ncboudicca says:

        I’m not suggesting he should return to Brazil, but he should have an official interview at the Brazilian Embassy in DC .

    • perplexed says:

      The American Embassy should be helping the swimmers out. (Maybe they are).

      • Jane.fr says:

        From the moment they were asked from the plane, they had the assistance of two consulate and IOC representants.

  7. Jenna's Snark says:

    I just saw on Us Weekly that they are now reporting a track & field athlete from Great Britian was mugged last night! They are warning all athletes not to leave the village, and if you need to they say not to wear your team colors/uniforms, don’t carry anything of value, don’t go after dark, always inform an official if you’re indeed leaving the village and last but not least it says don’t take taxis as they can’t be trusted! That last bit it the part that sticks out to me. This GB athlete and Ryan and the three swimmers all had a sketchy taxi. The taxi was in on the mugging. What a mess Rio has been for the Olympics.

  8. paranormalgirl says:

    There is no reason for him to make this story up. And now the victims are being treated like criminals. As for footage of them laughing, etc as they got back to the village – that would not necessarily be unusual. People often respond to traumatic events in a superficially light-hearted manner. It’s a defense mechanism to reframe the incident as an “adventure” rather than as something frightening. As for leaving the phones and credentials: no one wants to get caught with the credentials of an international “guest” of somewhat high profile. And disposing of said credentials is proof the robbery happened. And they are trying to make it seem like it didn’t. Phones are taken less and less these days due to GPS, tracking, etc. Again, disposing of the phone actually draws attention to the crime.

    • Emily says:

      I’m with you. They may have been doing something untoward – drugs or prostitutes or trashing a gas station bathroom – but I don’t think that means a robbing at gunpoint didn’t also happen. These types of robberies happen all the time (in the United States, too)! Someone who just wants money would have no interest in anything other than cash because you have to do something to turn it into cash, which could cast suspicion on you. It makes me very uncomfortable to say that “their stories don’t match up 100% so they are making it up.” What benefit do any of them get out of making it up? A cynical person could argue that Ryan is extending his fame after an Olympics dominated by Phelps…but the other athletes get nothing out of this.

      I think the Brazilian authorities are making a huge mistake making such a big deal out of this. Pulling people off of planes and taking their passports?? Especially since reports are out now that a British athlete has also been robbed. It’s the end of the Olympics…let it die down and hope people forget about it.

      • Sixer says:

        Emily – did you just say that it doesn’t matter if US athletes caused criminal damage to a business?

        Let’s say they were robbed. Let’s say the Brazilian authorities investigated very aggressively because there was an accusation that the robbers could have been Brazilian policemen. Let’s say that in the course of their investigation they find video evidence that, in addition to being the victims of a crime, the athletes had also committed crimes themselves. Let’s say all of this is true.

        You think one crime should be written off because that’s just the Brazilian authorities making a big deal out of it? Why? Because they’re American athletes? Seriously?

      • Emily says:

        Calm down – I didn’t say it didn’t matter. I said it’s possible that both things happened, and that one happening doesn’t make the other untrue.

        Obviously, stories are coming out now making it sound like your version is more true. And if that’s the case, then they should definitely be punished for implying Brazilian police and some poor cab driver were involved in the robbery.

  9. Stacey says:

    I don’t know whether they are telling the truth but there have been multiple robberies of athletes so far in Rio. The Aussies and Danes had their hotel rooms burglarized, Australian paralympic athletes have been robbed, a Chinese hurdler got puked on then robbed, the Spanish sailing team was robbed at gunpoint, and now The Guardian is saying a British athlete was robbed at gunpoint on Tuesday. A New Zealand athlete was kidnapped by rogue police and forced to withdraw money from an ATM. That doesn’t even mention the media members who have had equipment stolen or the German coach who died in a car accident because his taxi driver was reckless. But none of them were as high profile as Ryan Lochte.

    I just don’t get why they would make this up and invite this scrutiny on themselves.

  10. vaultdweller101 says:

    The Rio games have been one nightmare controversy after another. Mainly because of the INSANE social media and the nitpicking about everything. I feel like this stuff has always kind of happened, but now everything is picked. apart. to. death.

    Can we take Twitter and the all of the news media offline for the duration of the Olympics?

  11. Miss M says:

    I am so embarrassed how the Brazilian authorities have handled this . Why the IOC wanted to hide this story?
    I believe you Ryan (jeah)!

  12. Cara says:

    The athletes were already told to be off the beaches by 6pm due to fear of crime. Brazil brought in, reportedly, tens of thousands of police to watch the city during the Olympics- generally said because of the rampant crime seen daily in Rio.

    • Lynnie says:

      I truly feel for the people in Rio, because you know once this Olympic spotlight goes down the government/police is gonna stop pretending like they care about their wellbeing and go back to their original station of doing nothing. 😒

  13. Lexie says:

    I don’t know guys, if they were found to be lying to investigators that’s a crime. The whole thing is a mess mishandled by all, but if they committed a crime they shouldn’t be allowed to run home and not answer for it. Shouldn’t we wait for more info before automatically defending the athletes and slamming the authorities?

    • holly hobby says:

      Sorry if someone lied to the authorities, they would not be detained in jail. No country does that. You are interviewed and they file the paperwork in court if they found out you lied. You are then summoned to court. The way they are doing this is sketchy. They were mugged. They didn’t kill anyone. This over cautious plan by the Brazilian judge and police doesn’t make sense.

      • Sixer says:

        It does if the people concerned are also suspects in other crimes – which seems to be the case here.

  14. holly hobby says:

    This smells like a govt cover up to me. Seriously, why would a judge detain the swimmers and ask for their passports? Are they the victim or criminal? They make it sound like the victims were murderers.

    I guess now the DOJ will need to file paperwork to get the other swimmers out. Seriously Rio, what a shame!

  15. Moxie Remon says:

    Well, guys, as a brazilian, I should tell you that this is the standard treatment they’re receiving. Always blaming the victms, so yeah, I’m sorry for all of that, I do believe them, Rio is really freaking dangerous. As far as the insistence in clarifying what’s wrong, I believe they’re doing this so you guys don’t think we’re not investigating and treating this seriously. But it has blown out of proportion and they should have left the country alongside Ryan. By the way, our whole air transportation system is a freaking mess, so they do tend to yank people out of airplanes although it’s stupid and against the norms. I’m sorry in behalf of my people, this is truly embarassing!

  16. Locke Lamora says:

    I kinda understand where both the swimmers and authorities are coming from. When the refugee crisis was at it’s peak here in Croatia a British reporter from The Sun claimed he traveled by train from Greece, I think, to Paris without being stopped once. That could have done permannet damage to Croatia, especially considering how important our reputation as a safe country is for tourism. So the government looked into it fast, and found that he had been checked at the border crossing and that he borded a plain in Zagreb and flew to Paris, and was heavily checked there too. They released his passport scan and everything.
    So I get the why this blew up. But I also think it’s been handled badly. And I do believe Ryan and co. were robbed.

    • Sixer says:

      I remember that reporter.

    • Cee says:

      Locke – what I find intriguing about your comment is that what this reporter lied about, actually happened to me and my family. We traveled from Munich to Slovakia on multiple trains in the middle of the refugee crisis and was not checked, even once. We were only checked at Munich’s airport when we landed from Paris.

      There was so much chaos with the trains nobody even checked our tickets, and that’s how we took 5 trains from Munich to Bratislav, stopping in Salzburg, Wien, Buda-Pest and some other smaller towns .

      What I mean is that some people lie about probable things and I’m glad their statements are looked into. Just like Lochte’s et al.

      • Locke Lamora says:

        If you were going from Munich to Bratislava you were going trough the EU, where you don’t stop at broder crossings. Greece to Paris trough Southeastern Europe goes trough countries that are not yet in the EU, and therefore you have to be checked at border crossings. It is a completely different thing.

  17. ygsf says:


  18. HoustonGrl says:

    Rio Police sound shady AF. Why are they now launching a smear campaign?