US swimmer settles Brazil robbery row

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, file photo, United States' Ryan Lochte checks his time in a men's 4x200-meter freestyle heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lochte and three other American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday, Aug. 14, by thieves posing as police officers who stopped their taxi and took their money and belongings, the U.S. Olympic Committee said. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

US Olympic swimmer Jimmy Feigen has agreed to pay $11,000 to a Brazilian charity over his involvement in a false story about an armed robbery in Rio.

He was one of four gold medallists, along with star Ryan Lochte, who hit the headlines after Mr Lochte said the group had been robbed.

CCTV footage later showed the story had been invented after the swimmers vandalised a petrol station.

Mr Lochte left Brazil on Tuesday but Mr Feigen stayed behind and was detained.

The two other members of the group, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were pulled off a flight in Rio on Thursday night and questioned by police.

They deny any involvement in the false robbery claim and were allowed to leave the US on a later flight.

Mr Lochte initially said the four were robbed at gunpoint by men disguised as police officers while the athletes were returning from a nightclub by taxi.

But police could not find any evidence of the crime, and Rio’s civil police head Fernando Veloso ruled that the swimmers invented the story.

No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Mr Veloso said.

He told reporters that one or more of the athletes had instead vandalised a toilet in a petrol station and then offered to pay for the damage.

The Americans paid and left after armed security guards intervened” he said.

One guard had justifiably drawn his gun after one of the swimmers began behaving erratically”, Mr Veloso added.

He warned that the swimmers, who had repeatedly changed their accounts of what happened, could “in theory” face charges of giving false testimony and vandalism.

But later, the men’s lawyer Sergio Riera said Mr Bentz and Mr Conger had been allowed to leave the country by a special Olympic court.

He “provided a revised statement this evening (Thursday) with the hope of securing the release of his passport as soon as possible,” said the US Olympic Committee (USOC).

The USOC statement confirmed the version of events given by Mr Veloso, and added that “the behaviour of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA“.

BBC/Hauwa M.