Everything We Know About the Ryan Lochte Robbery Controversy (So Far)

Presented in chronological order, here's what we know about the controversy and competing stories


It’s been a unusually stressful week for Ryan Lochte, even by the standards of a world-class athlete. The Olympic swimming star is embroiled in a seemingly unending controversy over his claims that he and three U.S. teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio during the Olympic Games, a story that local police say they suspect to be a lie created as a cover-up for other behavior.

If you’re pressed for time – or perhaps just in too deep on this thing – and need a top-down view of the fiasco, we’re here to help. Presented in chronological order, here’s what we know about the controversy and competing stories (so far).

Aug. 14

Lochte’s mother tells USA Today that her son and his teammates, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen, were held up at gunpoint early Sunday morning. Lochte’s coach tells USA Today via text message that Lochte “was not held up,” while two PEOPLE sources confirm he was robbed, but decline to offer additional details.

Eventually, Lochte’s official version, to NBC, read as follows:

“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 said. “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 cell phone, he left my credentials.”

Aug. 17

Rio police claim they’ve found no evidence to corroborate Lochte’s story. (Specifically, that they have been unable to locate the taxi driver or any witnesses, and say the swimmers they interrogated were unable to provide key details.)

Tuesday, Lochte tells USA Today Sports that he and the other swimmers initially didn’t tell the United States Olympic Committee about the incident “because we were afraid we’d get in trouble.”

Lochte’s lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, tells the Associated Press that “this happened the way he described it.”

For more of PEOPLE’s Olympic coverage, pick up our collector’s edition, The Best of the Games, on sale now.

Aug. 17

A Brazilian judge orders that Lochte and Feigen surrender their passports. Lochte, however, has been in the U.S. since Tuesday, per his Snapchat. Police search the team’s vacant rooms in the Olympic village.

“They don’t believe his version of events, so there will be an inquiry,” a source tells PEOPLE. “This was the most high profile incident that has happened here in Brazil, so the government is really taking it seriously. The USOC is cooperating fully, of course, but they want to talk to Ryan. They’re not happy at all that this has given Rio a black eye, and they are vowing to get to the bottom of it. It’s a mess right now.”

Aug. 17

A “relaxed” Lochte is spotted at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina with Playboy playmate Kayla Rae Reid. “They were just talking normally, not laughing, but just normal,” Janie Sircey, 23, tells PEOPLE. “They didn’t look worried.”

Aug. 17

David Kubilun, of Greenspoon Marder’s criminal law practice group in Florida, who has no direct connection to the swimmers or the ongoing investigation, tells PEOPLE it’s unlikely Lochte will face extradition to Brazil. “There is an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Brazil,” Kubiliun says.

“[But] it would be very difficult, I think, to extradite [Lochte] given the fact that he left after the order was in place and it doesn’t look like he was in violation of the order,” he says.

Aug. 17

Wednesday night, via telephone, Lochte “strongly denied” to Today anchor Matt Lauer that he was making his story up. “I wouldn’t make up a story like this nor would the others,” Lauer says, 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.”

Several details vary between Lochte’s initial version of story and the one he recalls to Lauer, including the manner in which the robbery allegedly occurred.

Aug. 17

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, two U.S. swimmers with Lochte during the alleged robbery, are pulled off their departing flight from Rio and detained for police questioning regarding the incident.

They are released without being charged. “I don’t know that they knew how serious this was, and that they were about to start an international incident,” a member of Team U.S.A. tells PEOPLE. “The feeling was that this was Ryan’s issue, because he was the one who had talked to police the most, but this is a big deal for all of them.”

Aug. 18

CCTV footage emerges to different outlets that shows one of the swimmers allegedly “breaking down the door to the bathroom at the gas station and fighting with a security guard,” according to reports, which would seem to contradict the group’s version of events.

“You sort of want to roll your eyes and say, ‘Oh, Ryan.’ But this is really serious and affects everyone, not just him,” a USOC source tells PEOPLE.

“The video shows a completely different story than what we were told by the athletes,” the source adds. “It’s very disappointing to all of us.”

Aug. 18

Lochte’s teammates confirm to Brazilian police that he fabricated the alleged robbery, an official tells PEOPLE. An official with direct knowledge of the investigation lays out for PEOPLE the version of events authorities now believe unfolded:

Around 6 a.m. on Sunday, Lochte, along with Conger, Bentz and Feigen, stopped at a gas station in Barra da Tijuca, a suburb of Rio. One of the swimmers reportedly tried to open the door of a bathroom at the gas station and found that it was locked. The swimmer then began kicking the door open. A security officer and the gas station manager approached the group and asked them to pay damages. The men then became belligerent [and] an argument ensued, leading the security guard to point a gun at the men and insist that they pay for the damages. The swimmers then reportedly handed over their wallets and left the station.

The official says the manager called the police, but when they arrived, the swimmers were already gone.

“Everything they said was a lie and not true,” the official says of the later reports of a robbery. “When [Lochte] went on American TV and said his story, it made Brazil look bad when he was the one who had been doing the wrong thing.”

Aug. 18

A Lochte source tells PEOPLE that three minutes of missing footage from the CCTV tape backs up Lochte’s story. (The released footage does apparently include a jump in time, according to its timestamps.)

“The video backs up what they’re saying,” the source says. “There are three minutes in the middle of the video that are missing, that no one has picked up on. The video does not show them running out of the bathroom – if they had trashed it don’t you think they’d be running? There is no footage that has been released that has them smashing up a bathroom.”

“The man dressed in policeman’s uniform tells them to sit on the floor they hand over money and are held up with a gun,” the source says.

“From their perspective it reinforces what the swimmers have been saying,” adds the source, who says they have spoken to all the swimmers involved in the past few hours.

Aug. 18

A Rio woman who says she was an eyewitness to the gas station incident comes forward to PEOPLE, and describes many of the same basic details now shared among the different stories:

There was an altercation between the swimmers and the locals, a gun was drawn on the group and one or more of the swimmers handed over money.

“They got in the taxi, and people were still saying, ‘Stop. You owe us money. You owe us money,’ ” Bruna Castro-Ruiz, 28, says of the foursome. “They didn’t even turn their heads to listen. The workers were trying to talk to them about paying for the things they broke and they didn’t want to listen.”

Aug. 18

Criminal charges of false reporting of a crime are reportedly recommended for Feigen and Lochte in Rio.

Three sources confirm the recommendation to PEOPLE. In a statement to ABC News, Lochte’s lawyer says that “a gun was pointed at the swimmers and they were forced to get out of their cab and give up their money. No matter what happened at that gas station, the swimmers were robbed by people with a gun appearing to be law enforcement. No matter what country you are in that is robbery and robbery is a serious crime.”

Aug. 19

Lochte posts an apology to his Instagram, saying, in part:

“It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country – with a language barrier – and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that I am sorry.”

Aug. 19

A new report surfaces alleging that the night of the disputed robbery, two of the swimmers urinated at the back of the gas station and that Lochte punched and damaged an advertisement in a metal frame.

Sérgio Riera, a Brazilian attorney who represented Bentz and Conger, recounted new details from the controversial night to the Washington Post. He says that after the alleged misconduct, two security guards with pistols in their belts stopped the swimmers and one of the guards showed a police badge, which Riera says may have been false.

“Then Ryan began to argue, said, ‘I did nothing wrong,’ and they made them sit on the ground with the firearm pointing to them,” Riera says. “And a customer appeared who spoke English because the security did not speak English.”

“Imagine what the conversation must have been like,” he says. “A firearm, one talking Portuguese, the others talking English, totally frenetic, drunk and they came to an agreement to pay the damage. They gave a $20 note and 100 reals, and got another taxi and went away.”

Today visits the gas station in question but says they did not see any signs of damage at the bathroom – though it’s unclear if the damage was repaired between then and Sunday’s altercation. However, a Today reporter does note where at the gas station an advertisement appears to have been pulled off a wall.

Aug. 19

A USOC source tells PEOPLE that if the committee had its way, Feigen and Lochte may not return for another Olympic Games.

“The thinking is that no amount of gold medals is worth this,” the source tells PEOPLE. “They totally took over the entire Olympics with foolishness.”

Meanwhile, sportscaster Bob Costas says that Lochte may have cost himself "millions" in endorsement money over the controversy.

Aug. 19

Bentz and Conger arrive home in the U.S. after being cleared for travel out of Brazil the night before, the USOC tells PEOPLE.

Feigen reportedly agrees to pay nearly $11,000 in Brazil in order to have his passport returned so he can head home.

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