American six-time Olympic swimming champion Ryan Lochte was left shaken but unharmed after being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lochte, who helped Team USA win gold in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay last week, was with colleagues Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen when their taxi was stopped by men posing as armed police, the United States Olympic Committee said.
“These guys came out with a police badge – no lights, no nothing just a police badge – and they pulled us over,” Lochte told NBC News.
“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.”
The International Olympic Committee categorically denied initial reports of the incident. The US Olympic Committee said the swimmers were “co-operating with authorities”.
Lochte’s mother Ileana told American media that the swimmers had been “shaken up”. She added: “They just took their wallets and basically that was it.”
It is the latest controversy to disrupt the Games in Rio. A bullet pierced a tent at the equestrian events, while the diving pool mysteriously turned green midway through the competition.