Review Category : National Sports

US Swimmer Gunnar Bentz Details Account of Claimed Robbery in Rio

Angel Valentin/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — One of the U.S. Olympic swimmers caught up in the scandal over a fabricated claim of a robbery during the games in Rio de Janeiro, offered a detailed account of the events that happened that night while apologizing for his actions, according to a statement from the University of Georgia.

While offering a “sincere apology,” Gunnar Bentz, a student at the University of Georgia, maintained that he was never a suspect in the case and “never made a false statement to anyone at any time” in the incident, also involving teammate and medalist Ryan Lochte, the statement says.

Bentz, who was pulled off a flight in Brazil on Wednesday, but was allowed to return home after speaking to police, said that he, Lochte and two other swimmers, Jack Conger and James Feigen, stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom after leaving an event with swimmers from different nations.

“There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes,” Bentz said, according to the statement, which he said was consistent with what he told police.

Contrary to what police said, Bentz maintains that he didn’t see anyone break open a door at the gas station.

“I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall,” Bentz said.

He then said that two men, believed to be security guards, asked them to get out of their taxi.

“As Jimmy and Jack were walking away from the vehicle, the first security guard held up a badge to me and drew his handgun. I yelled to them to come back toward us and they complied,” Bentz said. “Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk.”

“Ryan stood up and began to yell at the guards. After Jack and I both tugged at him in an attempt to get him to sit back down, Ryan and the security guards had a heated verbal exchange, but no physical contact was made,” he added.

After that, Bentz says that a customer translated for them and they were told they needed to pay money in order to leave. After handing over $20 and 100 reals, “they lowered the guns and I used hand gestures to ask if it was okay to leave and they said yes.”

Lochte had claimed that he and his teammates were held up at gunpoint, saying that one of the assailants cocked a gun and put it against his forehead.

But police in Rio say that they were not robbed. Cops in the city also said that one or more of the Olympians broke mirrors and damaged other things in a bathroom in the gas station.

Police had recommended charges of making a false report for Lochte and Feigen, but Feigen donated $11,000 to charity as part of a plea bargain in order to avoid prosecution. He departed for the United States Friday night after getting his passport back.

In a statement Friday, Lochte apologized for his behavior and for “not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning.”

Lochte said it was “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.

The IOC is looking to set up a disciplinary committee in the case and Lochte and his teammates have been admonished by the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming.

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US Swimmer Jimmy Feigen Can Collect Passport After Paying $11K to Avoid Prosecution in Rio

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — U.S. Olympic swimmer Jimmy Feigen is free to collect his passport and leave Brazil after he made an $11,000 donation to a Brazilian charity in an effort to resolve a dispute over claims of being robbed in Rio de Janeiro that authorities say were made up.

During a court hearing, Feigen issued an apology to Brazil, the Court of Justice of the State of Rio de Janeiro said in a statement.

Feigen’s lawyer in Rio, Breno Melaragno Costa, announced the agreement early Friday morning, hours after he sat down with a judge and officials from the prosecuting ministry at a police station in Rio for four hours on Thursday.

Feigen agreed to donate 35,000 Reals, or roughly $11,000, to a Brazilian charity called Reaction Institute.

Feigen is the last of the four U.S. swimmers caught up in the controversy over an alleged robbery remaining in Brazil. Costa said that Feigen’s passport would be returned and he will be free to leave the country after the payment is made.

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US Swimmers Robbery Claim Scandal: Here’s What We Know and Don’t Know

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Four U.S. Olympic swimmers have been caught up in controversy this week over an alleged robbery in Brazil. Here’s everything we know so far and what questions still remain.

What Happened?

U.S. Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte claimed on Sunday that he and three teammates — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — were robbed after being pulled over in a taxi by men with guns and badges early that morning while heading back to the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro. Lochte said that his money was taken.

Lochte, 32, then told NBC News’ Matt Lauer Wednesday that the swimmers had used a restroom at a gas station and when they got back to their taxi, the driver didn’t move. That’s when two men approached with guns and badges and told them to get out and get down, Lochte said.

But Rio’s Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said the four U.S. swimmers were not robbed.

He said one or more of the U.S. Olympians vandalized a bathroom at the gas station after they left a party early Sunday. The athletes broke mirrors and damaged other things in the bathroom, police said.

The athletes initially refused to stay, but security asked the taxi not to leave, police said. Another person stepped in to intervene and translate between the athletes and the guards, and the athletes left money, police said.

Veloso added that a taxi driver picked up two women from the same party and that the women said they were “dating” or had relations with the swimmers.

Police said that witnesses were initially afraid to speak to police because of the possibility of retaliation from the high-profile foreign athletes involved.

There was no evidence of violence against the athletes, police noted.

The investigation is ongoing.

Sources who spoke to the four swimmers Thursday disputed the Brazilian police characterization of what happened, telling ABC News that Lochte and the others were held up by gunmen until the athletes handed over hundreds of dollars.

Surveillance video obtained by Brazil’s Globo TV shows the swimmers at a gas station. Additional surveillance footage obtained by Globo TV shows the swimmers arriving at a French House party around 1:45 a.m. and leaving four hours later. According to a judge in the case, the athletes claimed to have left the party at 4 a.m.

Where Are the Swimmers Now?

Lochte, Bentz and Conger have returned to the United States, but Feigen remains in Brazil.

Bentz, 20, and Conger, 21, were removed from their U.S.-bound flight Wednesday evening by Brazilian police, who then interviewed the pair about Lochte’s claim that he, Bentz, Conger and Feigen were robbed at gunpoint in Rio.

Sergio Riera, a Brazilian criminalist who is the attorney for Conger and Bentz, said the two swimmers “didn’t understand why they couldn’t board the plane.”

“They were very scared. It’s confusing because the police chief is saying one thing, and the judge is saying something else,” Riera said.

The United States Olympic Committee said Conger, of Rockville, Maryland, and Bentz, of Atlanta, left Rio Thursday night after giving statements to authorities and getting their passports back.

The duo arrived at Miami International Airport around 6:30 a.m. Friday.

Lochte, born in Rochester, New York, returned to the United States Monday.

Will They Be Charged?

On Thursday, Brazilian officials recommended that Lochte and Feigen face charges of false reporting of a crime, a civil police spokesman said.

In a statement, Lochte’s attorney Jeff Ostrow said he wasn’t aware “of the federal police recommending charges for filing a false police report.”

“I am not surprised to hear it though. They’ve gone this far and have failed to acknowledge that the robbery actually took place, so that would be the natural next step,” he said. “A gun was pointed at the swimmers and they were forced to get out of their cab and give up their money. No matter what happened at that gas station, the swimmers were robbed by people with a gun appearing to be law enforcement. No matter what country you are in that is robbery and robbery is a serious crime.”

Ostrow told ESPN that authorities have not reached out to Lochte since he gave his initial statement Sunday night.

“The authorities know how to get in touch with me, and we would cooperate,” Ostrow said. “But I haven’t heard from anyone.”

Lochte was not asked by authorities to stay in the country, Ostrow added.

Lochte issued an apology Friday “for not being more careful and candid” when explaining what happened in Rio last weekend.

If Lochte is charged, Barrozo predicts that it would be resolved in about a week as a bench trial before the judge and not a jury. If it was handled by a regular Brazilian court, Barrozo thinks the “outcome would probably be the same,” but it would take a lot longer.

Meanwhile, Feigen agreed Thursday to make an almost $11,000 donation to a Brazilian charity in an effort to resolve the dispute over the robbery claim, his lawyer said.

Feigen’s lawyer in Rio, Breno Melaragno Costa, announced the agreement early this morning, hours after he sat down with a judge and officials from the prosecuting ministry at a police station in Rio for four hours. The 26-year-old swimmer agreed to donate 35,000 reals, or roughly $11,000, to a Brazilian charity called Reaction Institute.

Costa said that Feigen’s passport would be returned and he will be free to leave the country and return home to San Antonio, Texas, after the payment is made.

Feigen also provided a revised statement to Brazilian authorities Thursday night in the hopes of getting his passport released, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Will Lochte Be Extradited to Brazil?

Legal experts said the chances of Lochte or his teammates’ being extradited or forced to return to Brazil are slim.

The United States and Brazil have a long-standing extradition agreement in the form of a treaty, which outlines the crimes a citizen must be charged with or convicted of in order for the other country to be willing to extradite a citizen. The crimes listed – including murder, rape and arson — are much more grave than those alleged here.

Who Were the Women?

During a news conference Thursday night, Rio police said two young women who left the same party as Lochte, Bentz, Conger and Feigen told a taxi driver that they had “stayed” with the swimmers. This may have been a “motive” for the fabricated claims, police said.

The identities of these women remain unknown.

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IOC Looking to Set up Disciplinary Commission in Ryan Lochte Case

Adam Pretty/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — The International Olympic Committee is looking to set up a disciplinary commission to determine if swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates will face punishment over what Brazilian authorities say was a fabricated story about a robbery during the Rio games, ABC News confirmed Friday.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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New Orleans Chosen as Host of 2017 NBA All-Star Game

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Next year’s NBA All-Star Game will be held in New Orleans, the league announced on Friday. This marks the third time the city has hosted the game.

“New Orleans is a world-class destination for sports and entertainment and we are very appreciative that the city is once again hosting our All-Star festivities,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

The game, which will take place on Feb. 19, 2017, was originally scheduled to be played in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, the NBA moved the location because of a bill in the state that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

“We are grateful that the NBA has selected us to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans,” Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Pelicans, said in a statement. “We have made tremendous upgrades to the Smoothie King Center and know the building will be a first-class venue to host the myriad of events associated with All-Star weekend.”

The news that the Smoothie King Center has been chosen as the new venue comes amid flooding in Louisiana that has killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands from their homes.

“Even in the midst of a historic crisis, I am excited that the NBA has recognized how great the City of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

The NBA, along with the National Basketball Players Association, Pelicans and New Orleans Saints, will be providing “financial and other ongoing support of the flood rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts,” the league said.

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Ryan Lochte Apologizes ‘for Not Being More Careful’ in Rio

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — U.S. Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte issued an apology Friday “for not being more careful and candid” when explaining what happened during an alleged gunpoint robbery in Rio de Janeiro last weekend.

“I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend — for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics,” Lochte said in a statement posted on social media. “I wanted to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.”

Lochte claimed on Sunday that he and three teammates — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — were robbed in a taxi early that morning while heading to the Olympic Village. Lochte told NBC News’ Matt Lauer on Wednesday that the swimmers had used a restroom at a gas station and when they got back to their taxi, the driver didn’t move. That’s when two men approached with guns and badges and told them to get out and get down, Lochte said.

But Rio’s Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said the four U.S. swimmers were not robbed.

One or more of the U.S. Olympians vandalized a bathroom at the gas station after they left a party early Sunday. The athletes broke mirrors and damaged other things in the bathroom, police said.

The athletes initially refused to stay, but security asked the taxi not to leave. Another person stepped in to intervene between the athletes and the guards, and the athletes left money, police said.

Police said that witnesses were initially afraid to speak to police because of the possibility of retaliation from the high-profile foreign athletes involved.

There was no evidence of violence against the athletes, police noted. The investigation is ongoing.

In his apology Friday, Lochte called the experience “traumatic.”

“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 behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event,” he said in the statement.

Lochte also acknowledged that “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,” he continued.

Lochte, Bentz and Conger have returned to the United States, but Feigen remains in Brazil.

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Rio Olympics 2016: Usain Bolt Goes for Third Gold

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Team USA’s athletes are still leading the medal count (100) as Day 14 of the Summer Games begins.

China trails the U.S. with 58 medals and Great Britain is in third place with 56.

Here are some of Rio’s most exciting events lined up for Friday:

Track and Field

Usain Bolt already has two gold medals from the Olympic Games in Rio, and will be competing for a third one Friday in the men’s 4×100 meter relay finals at 9:35 p.m. ET. Bolt will be going for his ninth Olympic gold medal in this race, and Jamaica is seeking its third consecutive gold medal in the event. The United States has not won this event in the last three Olympics.

The women’s 4×100 meter relay finals is also Friday at 9:15 p.m, and Team USA is looking to win its second consecutive gold medal in this event. The team qualified for the final after successfully appealing an initial disqualification for running without a baton.

Basketball

The star-studded Team USA featuring Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony and Draymond Green will take on Spain in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. The men’s team faced Spain in the gold medal game in 2012 and 2008.

Water Polo

The women’s water polo finals is Friday at 2:30 p.m. with Team USA taking on Italy. Team USA won in 2012, but Italy won in 2004. Whoever wins Friday afternoon will be the first two-time Olympic gold medalists in the event.

Boxing

Defending gold medalist Claressa Shields of Team USA will fight Dariga Shikimova of Kazakhstan Friday in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m.

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Boxer Claressa Shields’ Long Fight for Olympic Glory

ABC News(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Olympic boxer Claressa Shields has come a long way from the gritty streets she grew up on.

The 21-year-old has 75 wins, two world championships and an Olympic gold medal under her belt — she won her first gold in 2012 when she was just 17. Now she’s competing in Rio at the 2016 Games to go for gold a second time.

Only two other women in history have won Olympic gold in boxing, which happened in 2012 when women’s competition boxing was included in the Olympics for the first time.

“I enjoy fighting. Period,” Shields said. “I just enjoy being able to show someone I can outbox them.”

“I’m an athlete. I’m a boxer,” she continued. “I’m just as fast as you. I’m just as strong as you. I’m just as skilled… I get to fight without going to jail. You fight in the streets, you get locked up.”

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, which has been plagued by gang violence and a drinking water crisis, Shields learned to fight for everything. There’s a lot riding on her powerful shoulders, including helping to take care of her family.

“I don’t really let anything be pressure to me,” Shields said. “I don’t know why. I kind of just accept it. I just do it, accept it, but I want to help my family.”

Oddly, the boxing ring, where people pummel each other, was always her refuge.

“I know some people that were killed but they were into gang violence and the wrong kind of people,” Shields said. “It’s still hurtful and I miss a lot of my friends.”

But Shields wasn’t spared from all violence. In the PBS documentary, T-Rex, she said she was raped as a child. Shields said she decided to share her story after she heard another young women recount her horrible childhood experiences.

“I had went to the University of Michigan-Flint. There was a girl who was talking about her mom who sold her for some drugs,” she said. “She was 17 and for her to get up there and tell her story, I was like, ‘I would never.’ … I felt like a coward.”

“I was like, ‘look at me on this huge pedestal,’ and you know, ‘boxing is my way out and not telling my story,'” Shields added. “So me hearing hers made me decide I would speak about it.”

But it’s a story that she chooses not to use to define herself.

“That’s not my story, that’s not why I box,” she said. “I like boxing because I walk into the gym and everyone was working hard. That’s why I like boxing. Me being raped and molested has nothing to do with that.”

Shields met her longtime trainer Jason Crutchfield at Berston Field House, a boxing gym in Flint. When he first saw her come in, he didn’t pay much attention.

“I didn’t want to mess with no female boxers,” he said. “I didn’t believe in female boxing… and she was doing better than the boys.”

For eight years, Crutchfield guided her through every punch.

“She would be the first one here every time,” Crutchfield said. “I say, ‘OK, be down to Berston at 8 o’clock.’ She would be here at 6 o’clock in the morning.'”

In preparing for the London Olympics in 2012, Shields split her time between training and high school, living in six different homes.

“I was moving everywhere,” she said. “Making my own decisions, trying to make the right decisions in my life.”

But Shields believes her traumatic childhood is one of the sources of her strength — and boxing was her way out.

“Everyone is different,” she said. “I definitely think I’m tougher than most of them… I guess I can blame it on my upbringing and where I’m from, but at the end of the day, we’re all fighters no matter where we come from.”

And she’s taken her setbacks. Despite winning gold in London, Shields received fewer endorsements than her counterparts in other sports, though this time around, endorsements are coming in. Just a few months before the 2012 Olympics, Shields went into the world championships undefeated and experienced her first and only loss of her career to date.

Even still, she’s the favorite to win gold at Rio, and she continues to push for glory, fist over fist.

“If I win a second gold medal, I believe I should get a freakin million-dollar deal to go professional,” Shields said. “Two Olympic gold medals at the age of 21? Oh, come on, there’s no way I shouldn’t.”

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Simone Biles on Her Return from Rio

ABC News(RIO DE JANEIRO) — With five Olympic medals, and a smooch from her celebrity crush, Zac Efron, it’s safe to say that Simone Biles is on Cloud 9.

“I was very surprised,” Biles said on ABC News’ Good Morning America of her kiss from Efron. “He came out and I was just so shocked. I thought I was going to die.”

Biles’ medals, including four gold, made her a shoo-in to appear on Kellogg’s new Team USA-themed cereal boxes.

The Olympian will soon return to the United States to celebrate her record-breaking victories.

“I’m very excited to go back to the states and try to get back into normal life, but we have the Kellogg’s tour so that’ll be crazy but super, super fun, we’re all excited,” she said. “I don’t know. We heard what it’s going to be like, but you don’t know until after.”

She added: “We all want to go on vacation, not just one probably a couple of them. We all want to go to Belize together and then after that, we’ll probably do family vacations.”

As for 2020, Biles plans on enjoying the present before returning to the gym.

“As of now, I know whenever the ‘Fierce Five’ got back, Aly [Raisman] told me they were really busy for a year, so I imagine that’s what it’s going to be like and we’re just going to enjoy the time because like Aly keeps telling us we deserve it. And so, we’ll just have fun and get back to work whenever things slow down, which I imagine will be a while,” she said.

Biles also had a message for young fans trying to achieve their dreams.

“Always work hard and have fun in what you do because I think that’s when you’re more successful,” she said. “You have to choose to do it.”

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