American swimmer Jack Conger has issued a statement on the Rio de Janeiro gas station incident, which involved Ryan Lochte and other U.S. teammates.
Conger said in a news release that he “deeply” regretted the “trouble and embarrassment this event has brought to the people of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, and the distraction it has caused from the achievements of my fellow Olympians.” The gold medalist said he had been “completely truthful,” and gave his account of the event, saying that Lochte apparently drew the attention of an employee after removing a poster.
“This has been an unsettling, humbling and frightening experience,” Conger said the release. “It’s a reminder that all of us, when we travel and especially when we represent the US in the Olympics, are ambassadors for our country and should be on our best behavior.”
It’s good to be back home in the U.S. Participating in the Olympics was a wonderful experience, and I want to express my appreciation to Brazil and to Rio de Janeiro for being wonderful hosts. I also want to express my gratitude for the support I’ve received from my family and friends, USA Swimming, the US Olympic Committee, and the University of Texas.
Unfortunately, one event has become the focus of attention, and I want to briefly address that event today. First and foremost, I deeply regret the trouble and embarrassment this event has brought to the people of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, and the distraction it has caused from the achievements of my fellow Olympians. Brazil and Rio have staged a great Games, and it was a privilege to be there and to represent the United States of America. I also want to express my regret for its impact on USA Swimming and the USOC.
Let me begin by emphasizing that I have been completely truthful in my statements throughout this unfortunate situation, including the information I provided to US officials before leaving Brazil. In fact, the Brazilian authorities made clear to me from the very beginning that I was being considered only a witness, not a suspect.
Perhaps it will be helpful to provide a summary of what I believe happened that night:
Early Sunday morning I was with USA swimming teammates celebrating at the French House. Four of us took a taxi back to the Olympic Village, and on the way we pulled into a gas station to use the restroom, but ultimately relieved ourselves outside, for which I apologize. Ryan Lochte removed a poster from a nearby wall, which apparently alerted the gas station employees, leading to our being confronted by two armed security men. Although I cooperated with their requests while there was a heated exchange among others, at one point a weapon was pointed at me. Eventually, a man appeared who was able to translate for us, helping to defuse the situation. We paid some money to compensate them for the torn poster, and returned to the Village in a different taxi.
This has been an unsettling, humbling and frightening experience. It’s a reminder that all of us, when we travel and especially when we represent the US in the Olympics, are ambassadors for our country and should be on our best behavior.
Again, I want to express my appreciation to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, and my apologies. I appreciate the support I have received from my family and friends, as well as the support I’ve received from my teammates and so many others. Now, I am looking forward to getting back into my normal routine of school and swimming.
Conger and teammate Gunnar Bentz flew out of Rio earlier this week after cooperating with investigators on the matter.
You can find Bentz’s statement on the incident here, and coverage of Lochte’s apology here.
FINA, the sport’s world governing body, said in a statement that it has been “carefully following cases” of post-competition behavior from swimmers at the Games.
“FINA obviously regrets that any such facts and the consequent news headlines they have caused may have detracted from the attention that should rightfully be focused on other athletes at the Olympic Games,” the statement read. “In accordance to its Constitution Rules and its Code of Conduct, FINA will carefully monitor on the actions taken by the IOC, USOC and USA Swimming, and will take the measures deemed necessary in such cases.”