U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte apologized Friday for “not being more careful and candid” when describing an alleged armed robbery in Rio last week.
The apology appeared on the American swimmer’s official social media accounts, a day after Brazilian police accused Lochte and three of his teammates of fabricating details of their claim that they were robbed at gunpoint on Aug. 14 by men impersonating officers.
Lochte said on Instagram and Twitter that it was “traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country” and “have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave.”
He also said that he should have been more “responsible,” adding that he was “sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event.”
“[T]his was a situation that could and should have been avoided,” Lochte said. “I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.”
Initially, Lochte told NBC that an assailant pushed a gun to his forehead, demanding he give up his possessions.
Video by NBC
But Lochte’s early account conflicted with Rio police who said the swimmers had a “rowdy gas station confrontation” with security guards.
Police said Lochte and the others had vandalized a gas station bathroom while intoxicated. Despite rebutting the swimmers’ accounts, Rio police did acknowledge that a security guard had pulled a gun on the athletes at the gas station and demanded payment for the damage, the Associated Press reported.
Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso told AP that the athletes paid 100 Brazilian reals, or about $33, and $20 in U.S. money to leave the gas station that night. Later on, Jimmy Feigen also agreed to pay nearly $11,000 to a Brazilian charity as part of a settlement with a Rio judge.
“They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Veloso said Thursday at a news conference.
Lochte, currently back in the U.S., said in his apology that he delayed releasing his statement until “it was clear that my teammates [three other swimmers involved in the investigation] would be arriving home safely.”