By Nicole Bogart
Tech Reporter Global News
Ryan Lochte has apologized for embellishing a story about an alleged armed robbery in Rio De Janerio.
In a lengthy statement posted to his social media networks, the U.S. swimmer apologized for his behaviour during the late-night incident at a gas station, saying he should have been more candid when he described what happened.
However, the 12-time gold medallist reiterated his view that a stranger pointed a gun at him and demanded money to let him leave.
“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 behaviour of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself,” he wrote, apologizing to his family, friends and fellow teammates.
“This was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.”
On Thursday, Brazilian police said Lochte and three of his teammates – Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen – were not been held at gunpoint after a night of partying, as he claimed. Instead, police said the men, while intoxicated, vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.
“No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso told a news conference.
Security footage from the incident shows one of the swimmers pulling a sign off of a wall and dropping it onto the ground. A gas station worker arrives, and other workers inspect the damage. The swimmers allegedly broke a door, a soap dispenser and a mirror.
WATCH: Security footage shows Ryan Lochte gas station incident
The swimmers eventually talk with station workers and their cab leaves. In another sequence, the swimmers appear to briefly raise their hands while talking to someone and sit down on a curb.
After a few minutes, the swimmers stand up and appear to exchange something – perhaps cash, as police said – with one of the men.
Bentz and Conger were whisked through airport security and onto a plane home Thursday night; their attorney has insisted they had nothing to do with Lochte’s story. Lochte himself left the country earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Feigen has agreed to donate 35,000 Brazilian reals ($10,800) to an “institution” in order to leave the country.
WATCH: American swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were booed and called liars by a crowd as they left a police station in Rio de Janeiro
The drama surrounding the alleged robbery of American swimmers – and their ever-changing descriptions of it – has shocked and deeply angered Brazilians, who said it cast a false negative shadow on their city and their Olympics. The story has also dominated Olympic headlines, overshadowing the worthy accomplishments of athletes who had trained for years just to get to Rio and set records during their performances at these Olympics.
In his apology, Lochte noted that the incident took focus away from many athlete’s trying to fulfill their Olympic dreams.
With files from the Associated Press