Watch: Ryan Lochte calls Rio police’s version of events ‘absurd’ in TV interview to promote reality TV turn
Lochte has been charged by the Brazilian government and is yet to decide if he will return to the country
Ryan Lochte described Rio de Janeiro police’s claims that he and three other American swimmers vandalised a gas station bathroom during the Summer Olympics as “absurd” in a televised interview on Tuesday.
Lochte, who appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to promote his upcoming stint on Dancing With the Stars, didn’t back down from the core of what he’s said in prior interviews: He was held at gunpoint and armed men demanded the swimmers pay for a damaged sign.
“USA Today and other people have been finding out and investigating,” Lochte said. “There was no damage to the bathroom. I have never even entered the bathroom. It was locked, so we couldn’t go in there at all. The story about me vandalising the bathroom is absurd. It never happened.”
Lochte admitted in the interview that he ripped what one witness told USA Today was a “loosely attached” advertising sign from a wall. Armed security guards intervened and demanded the swimmers pay for the damage.
“I don’t know if it was a robbery or extortion or us just paying up for the poster,” Lochte said.
Lochte dodged the question about whether he would return to Brazil to face a charge of filing a false police report that was announced last week.
“I have a great (legal) team and they’re dealing with it,” Lochte said. “It’s been dragged out way too long.”
He said he’s offered to reimburse swimmer Jimmy Feigen, who had to pay about $11,000 to a Brazilian charity to avoid charges.
“I reached out to Jimmy saying, ‘I know you have to pay that fine. It is my fault.’ I’m taking full responsibility for this and I will pay that back if he will let me,” Lochte said.
Lochte again admitted his initial version of events wasn’t entirely accurate, including that a gun was cocked and held against his forehead.
“That was over-exaggerated,” Lochte said.
Lochte said he’s also contacted the two other swimmers with him that early morning, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger.
“I’ve reached out to everyone,“ Lochte said. ”I think that was the most important thing that I did because they mean so much to me. When I found out that they (Bentz and Conger) were pulled off the plane and everything that’s happened to them in the media, that hurt me because I wasn’t there. I wanted to be there and I wanted to help.”