IOC Forms Disciplinary Commission; Bentz Issues Statement on Gas Station Incident

Photo Courtesy: Kevin D. Liles-USA TODAY Sports

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In the latest development of the situation surrounding US Olympic swimmers Ryan LochteJimmy FeigenGunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger, the International Olympic Committee has formed a disciplinary commission to investigate what happened last Sunday morning. While Lochte originally claimed he and his teammates had been robbed at gunpoint, the story has quickly unraveled.

Last night, the US Olympic Committee and USA Swimming issued statements on the matter, with the USOC planning to review the matter after returning to the United States. The IOC, however, is a separate entity with the power to issue sanctions.

This morning Lochte issued an apology. Tonight, Bentz has issued a statement through his school, the University of Georgia. He repeats his account which he shared with Brazilian authorities. This version of events also runs counter to some of Lochte’s story.

Read Bentz’s full statement below:

“I want to offer a sincere apology to the United States Olympic Committee, USA Swimming, the extraordinary women and men of Team USA, and the University of Georgia. Being a member of the Olympic Swimming Team was an honor and a dream come true. The accomplishments of my teammates were awe-inspiring and I’m so pleased I got to see them up close. I regret this situation has drawn attention away from the Olympics, which have been hosted so incredibly well by Brazil and its citizens.

“While I am anxious to put this matter behind me and rejoin my Georgia teammates in classes, practices and competitions, I feel compelled to stress several key points.

1. I was never a suspect in the case from the beginning (Brazilian law enforcement officials saw me only as a witness).
2. I never made a false statement to anyone at any time.

“I also want to be forthright about the details of what transpired last Sunday. What follows is consistent with the account I gave to the Brazilian authorities when I was interviewed for the first and only time on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro:

“After attending an event with several swimmers from different nations, I left in a taxicab along with U.S. swimmers Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte around 6 a.m. On the way back to the Olympic Village, we pulled into a convenience store to use the restroom. There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes. There was a locked door out back and I did not witness anyone breaking it open. I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall. I then suggested to everyone that we needed to leave the area and we returned to the taxi.

“Two men, whom I believe to have been security guards, then instructed us to exit the vehicle. No guns were drawn during this exchange, but we did see a gun tucked into one of the guard’s waistband. As Jimmy and Jack were walking away from the vehicle, the first security guard held up a badge to me and drew his handgun. I yelled to them to come back toward us and they complied. Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk.
“Again, I cannot speak to his actions, but Ryan stood up and began to yell at the guards. After Jack and I both tugged at him in an attempt to get him to sit back down, Ryan and the security guards had a heated verbal exchange, but no physical contact was made.

“A man that I believe to be a customer approached us and offered to help as he spoke both English and Portuguese. Understandably, we were frightened and confused during this time. Through the interpreter, one of the guards said that we needed to pay them in order to leave. I gave them what I had in my wallet, which was a $20 bill, and Jimmy gave them 100 Reals, which is about $50 in total. They lowered the guns and I used hand gestures to ask if it was okay to leave and they said yes. We walked about a block down the street and hailed another taxi to return to the Village.

“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. Additionally, I would like to stress that our original taxi was not pulled over; the only occupants of the taxi were the four of us and the driver; and to my knowledge, there was no damage done to the door or the inside of the restroom.

“I am so thankful for the love and support of my family, my friends and my teammates during this time. Without question, I am taking away a valuable life lesson from this situation. In everything I do, I am representing my family, my country and my school. I will not take that responsibility lightly.”
— Gunnar Bentz, Aug. 19, 2016

Read more about the IOC commission here.
18 Comments

18 comments

  1. avatar
    Daniel Gately

    Thanks Gunnar! 32 year old Lochte, take the lead from a 20 year old and Man Up!

  2. avatar
    TX swim mom

    Sounds to me like foolish behavior (peeing on the wall and ripping the sign down) followed by a shakedown. Lochte lying about it from the beginning made the molehill a mountain. Mama always said nothing good comes from getting drunk and staying out till dawn! Thank goodness no one was shot. I wish Gunnar and Jack continued success in the pool and at university. The two “youngsters” for sure deserve forgiveness.

  3. avatar
    Alessandra

    “2. I never made a false statement to anyone at any time.”

    I doubt it, but what this proves is that when he saw Lochte go on TV and falsely report a crime, he didn’t come forward to correct the record. He seconded the lie by his silence. Second, the four begged security not to call police after soiling and trashing the place.

    ” I am unsure why, … Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall. I then suggested to everyone that we needed to leave the area and we returned to the taxi.”

    Here’s his accusation of vandalism having occurred – aside of soiling the place by peeing. And why indeed did Lochte tear the thing down? Maybe because he was on drugs, and not just alcohol?

    Third, what was reported is that Lochte made so much noise tearing the sign down that this was what called the attention of security. So that contradicts “the loosely anchored”.

    Fourth, they tried to leave before police arrived. And when security said they had to wait for police, they offered to pay for the damage they caused, settling with security right there.

    His statement omits connecting the damage they caused to offering to pay for it right away. He tries to spin it as if security just wanted to get some money out of them for nothing.

    • avatar
      Just the Facts Please

      You know so many unreported “details.” Sounds like you were there. Why didn’t you speak up instead of remaining silent, too?

      • avatar
        Alessandra

        “Unreported details” only for people who didn’t read any articles… it’s all in different news reports. A PR statement and the truth are two different things!

  4. avatar
    Alessandra

    And there was also this: we can see the four swimmers coming out of a building in one of the videos! Bentz says they urinated only outside. Was that the bathroom or some other kind of room?

  5. avatar
    Tony

    Well said Allesandra!

    You want ‘just the facts’?
    The facts are that all three other than Lochte lied by omission.
    Whatever they now claim to have said or not said I read Lochte’s original statement and if you can reference a report of them contradicting him at the time please do so.
    Long story short, whilst pissing against a wall is unpleasant and probably illegal, we’ve probably all been there.
    The rest of it is well out of order
    Are you accusing the police of inventing the details of alleged vandalism?

    • avatar
      Alessandra

      So you read one article? If you want details of the contradictions, I suggest you increase that number. It helps to read.

      • avatar
        Tony

        I would suggest you actually learn to read English
        I didn’t say ‘article’ I said ‘statement’
        Made of his own free will and not under any duress to the best of my knowledge – unless you know differently?
        This whole event would have been dead and buried if Lochte had been able to keep his big mouth shut and whatever you say it’s not going to go away now

  6. avatar
    JC

    To begin with upon hearing g this story I had many doubts, thing just don’t add up, first they are trying to avoid police and then they make a report? Doesn’t make sense, something doesn’t add up. Furthermore, pissing outside while cruse doesnt seem to be a crime there, their bay was literally filled with human waste. So we are left with, ripping down a poster, which probably fly cost what $100? The total paid between all of them to get out of the situation and then the country was $12,000 USD that is extortion anyway you look at it.

    • avatar
      JC

      *while crude… not cruse. Don’t know where the ‘fly’ came from.

      The police chief seems to be the one that was speculating, be talked about destroying a bathroom, they never even entered the restroom. He speculated that they wanted to get out of there so quickly due to one of the swimmers having g a girlfriend or something? Pure speculation, but the thought that 4 swimmers being drunk and having guns pointed at them and being told they have to pay money order to leave cant possibly misconstrued as being robbed. Ripping a poster off the wall and peeing outside doesnt seem to be provocation for being held at gunpoint to me.

  7. avatar
    jswarz

    Can’t help to wonder how the IOC Disciplinary Commission will rule on the incident when they turn a blind eye to the serious offense of systemic doping -which is a direct threat to clean athletes and the overall integrity of sport …….

  8. avatar
    JC

    This is absolutely ridiculous and now to hear that Lochte could be sent back and do 1 – 6 months in jail or pay an exorbitant fine, for what? For ripping a poster off the wall, total cost of damage? $100? Already paid. The fact of what is happening is that the Brazilians are completely taking advantage of this because the Olympics were involved, the men are trying to make sure that they are allowed to swim in the Olympics again so are saying whatever they need to say for that privilege. The fact that the Americans are letting themselves be completely dictated to by the Brazilian Gov’t is pathetic.

    • avatar
      Tony

      Not an unreasonable argument on the face of it but as with North, Nixon, Clinton, Clinton and all the others on the long list of shame, Americans seem unable to grasp the vast gulf between the original relatively minor transgression and the totally criminal efforts to cover it up.

      The issue now isn’t pissing in public and minor vandalism it’s lying under oath to the police, the FBI, and his own embassy and possibly inciting others to do the same
      That’s a serious crime in any jurisdiction

      • avatar
        JC

        Granted it sounds like you know much more thn me regarding this, afterall, I just brIefly saw the police give thier press conference of their findings, saw Ryan’s short comments to the news amd read each of the letters that the swimmers had written, so I don’t know what was revealed while speaking to police. But, generally atleast in the United States, when the police are questioning you, you are not under oath, you are only under oath when you are sworn in during court, and as far as I know, Letche never went infront of a judge. Furthermore, I don’t think that after reading the letters written by the 3 other swimmers I don’t think it’s unreasonable to misunderstand the situation, none of the swimmers stated that they were being held until police arrived and the person who came in as an interpreter from what I understand simply told them they had to pay to leave, I don’t recall any of them saying that they were told that it was for the damage they did to the poster, but I could be wrong. I’m sure that a lot more has come to light, but I was also under the impression that it was just the local police, and the Olympic committee or whatever it’s called involved, I was unaware that the FBI and the Embassy was involved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they didnt or at least Letche didn’t do anything wrong, I just think that it’s a bit over the top with what this is turning into. I also think that having to pay that amount of money is nothing short of extortion. I read a report of some other vandalism I. Brazil at a school, the pictures showed that the school was trashed, I mean thousands of dollars worth of damage and those kids/young adults got off with probation and a fine of like $500. So it seems to like to be asking for more and more money is simple extortion.

      • avatar
        JC

        Granted it sounds like you know much more thn me regarding this, afterall, I just brIefly saw the police give thier press conference of their findings, saw Ryan’s short comments to the news amd read each of the letters that the swimmers had written, so I don’t know what was revealed while speaking to police. But, generally atleast in the United States, when the police are questioning you, you are not under oath, you are only under oath when you are sworn in during court, and as far as I know, Lotche never went infront of a judge. Furthermore, I don’t think that after reading the letters written by the 3 other swimmers I don’t think it’s unreasonable to misunderstand the situation, none of the swimmers stated that they were being held until police arrived and the person who came in as an interpreter from what I understand simply told them they had to pay to leave, I don’t recall any of them saying that they were told that it was for the damage they did to the poster, but I could be wrong. I’m sure that a lot more has come to light, but I was also under the impression that it was just the local police, and the Olympic committee or whatever it’s called involved, I was unaware that the FBI and the Embassy was involved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they didnt or at least Lotche didn’t do anything wrong, I just think that it’s a bit over the top with what this is turning into. I also think that having to pay that amount of money is nothing short of extortion. I read a report of some other vandalism I. Brazil at a school, the pictures showed that the school was trashed, I mean thousands of dollars worth of damage and those kids/young adults got off with probation and a fine of like $500. So it seems to like to be asking for more and more money is simple extortion.

      • avatar
        JC

        Oh and thats the other thing they didn’t go to the police and file a police report from my understanding the police came to them after seeing something on the news, so to now be in trouble for filing a ‘false’ police report, is ridiculous because this is something the police instigated not the swimmers.

  9. avatar
    JC

    But a narrative of the night’s events – constructed by USA TODAY Sports from witness statements, official investigations, surveillance videos and media reports – supports Lochte’s later account in which he said he thought the swimmers were being robbed when they were approached at a gas station by armed men who flashed badges, pointed guns at them and demanded money.
    A Brazilian judge says police might have been hasty in determining the security guards, by how they dealt with the swimmers, did not commit a robbery. A lawyer who has practiced in Brazil for 25 years says she does not think the actions of Lochte and teammate Jimmy Feigen constitute the filing of a false police report as defined under Brazilian law.

    -And yet now they are indicted Locate(I can never remember now to spell his name). Even when a Brazilian judge says that the police were hasty in saying that how the guards(who were off duty police detail) dealt with the situation becauae it could be confused as a robbery.

    It is clear from all accounts that a Portuguese-English language barrier played a major role in the incident and that a bilingual Brazilian witness who stepped forward at the scene was critical in preventing a tense situation from escalating.
    The witness, Fernando Deluz, says he got involved after one of the guards pulled a gun on the men.
    “As soon as they drew their weapon, that’s when I got worried,” Deluz, a disc jockey, told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday.
    “It was also so fast, and what I wanted was to resolve the situation,” says Deluz, who days later talked to police. “If it hadn’t been for wanting to resolve that, if I hadn’t involved myself, I thought – the police chief told me, ‘Man, if you hadn’t gone there in that moment, a tragedy could have occurred.’ ”.

    -Little over the top in my opinion.

Author: Cathleen Pruden

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Cathleen Pruden is a 2016 graduate of Mount Holyoke College and was a four time All-American and a three time Academic All-American for the Lyons. She grew up swimming in and has also coached in Raleigh, North Carolina. Currently she is the Assistant Coach at Bowdoin College.

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