Gunnar Bentz, Olympic swimmer for Team USA, issued an apology for the Rio robbery incident that involved himself and fellow teammates Ryan Lochte, James Feigen, and Jack Conger.
“I want to offer a sincere apology to the United States Olympic Committee, USA Swimming, the extraordinary women and men of Team USA, and the University of Georgia,” Bentz said in a statement released through the University of Georgia. He added, “I regret this situation has drawn attention away from the Olympics, which have been hosted so incredibly well by Brazil and its citizens.”
Bentz felt “compelled” to clarify that he “was never a suspect in the case from the beginning,” and “never made a false statement to anyone at any time.”
While accompanied by Bentz, Conger, and Feigen, Lochte initially claimed he was robbed at gunpoint last Sunday morning. Upon investigation, police found no evidence to support the claims, and the swimmers instead allegedly vandalized a gas station, prompting an altercation with the owner. (The International Olympic Committee has formed a disciplinary committee to investigate and determine whether the four swimmers will face punishment, according to CNN.)
In his statement, Bentz included his version of the events that transpired. He explained the swimmers, including himself, “pulled into a convenience store” and “foolishly relieved [themselves] on the backside of the building behind some bushes” when they realized there was no restroom.
Bentz further stated that Lochte pulled “a framed metal advertisement” off the wall, after which two men he presumed to be security guards came over and detained them. One drew his handgun when two of the swimmers walked away from their taxi.
“Again, I cannot speak to his actions, but 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.”
Regarding security footage of the incident, Bentz said, “I am confident that some video angles have not been shown that would further substantiate my account. I also believe some scenes have been skipped over.”
Bentz and Conger were pulled off a return flight to the U.S. earlier this week for further questioning. While Lochte has been at the center of this controversy, he had returned home prior. The United States Olympic Committee issued an apology to Brazil regarding the incident, though a statement from Lochte’s lawyer to ABC News maintains a robbery occurred.
“Without question, I am taking away a valuable life lesson from this situation,” Bentz’s statement concluded. “In everything I do, I am representing my family, my country and my school. I will not take that responsibility lightly.”
Read his full statement on the University of Georgia website.