US swimmers pulled off flight from Rio over robbery claims

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were told to stay in the country

US swimmers pulled off flight from Rio over robbery claims

American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz (centre left) and Jack Conger (centre right) leave the police station at Rio International Airport after they were taken off their flight from Brazil to the US | Image: Mauro Pimentel / AP/Press Association Images

Two American Olympic swimmers have been removed from a flight to the US by authorities investigating claims they were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro.

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were taken off the flight hours after a judge ordered gold medallist Ryan Lochte and his teammate Jimmy Feigen to stay in the country as police probe their story.

United States Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky confirmed the swimmers were detained but had no further details.

Lochte's father has confirmed he returned to the US on Tuesday, while Feigen is reportedly still in Brazil.

The swimmers said they were robbed on Sunday as they travelled back to the Athletes' Village after a party at Club France - part of France's Olympic hospitality venue.

They said they were in a taxi in the early hours of the morning when armed men carrying police badges pulled them over.

Lochte told NBC's Today show: "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."

Doubts were raised about their account after Olympic Village x-ray machine records suggested the men were carrying belongings which they claimed had been stolen in police statements.

Judge Keyla Blanc also said she was puzzled by video footage of the swimmers apparently laughing and joking as they returned to the village.

"They arrived with their psychological and physical integrity unshaken," she wrote.

"I don't know what all the controversy is"

Authorities also said the group did not call police, and officers only began investigating once they saw media reports.

Police sources say they have been unable to find the taxi driver or to verify details provided by the swimmers.

Lochte's father, Steve Lochte, told The Associated Press by phone from his Florida home that his son called him on Tuesday after arriving in the US.

The 32-year-old swimmer said he was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one that he said was stolen in the robbery.

Mr Lochte said: "I'm just happy he's safe. 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."

He said his son's Olympic credentials and mobile phone were not taken during the incident and he was sure Ryan had his passport or he would not have been allowed to board a plane.

Lochte's lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, has said there is no question the robbery happened.

Twelve-time Olympic medalist Lochte swam in two events at the Rio Games, winning gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay.