Brazil: US swimmers faked robbery to cover up assault -- and we have video to prove it

Suddenly, pulling two American athletes off a plane bound for the US doesn’t look quite so outrageous. A day after detaining the two Olympians and only narrowly missing a third, Brazilian law enforcement tells ABC News that the robbery the three reported never happened. They claim that surveillance video shows the trio attacking a gas station security guard:

As the police investigation continues into the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympic swimmers in Rio, a Brazilian police source told ABC News that “one of the swimmers was seen on CCTV footage breaking down the door to the bathroom at the gas station and fighting with a security guard” on the night of the incident.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte claimed on Sunday that he and three other U.S. swimmers were robbed at about 4 a.m. in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village in Rio.

Prior to this report, ABC’s Good Morning America covered the developments in the story. Legal analyst Dan Abrams called it a “political investigation” prompted by the embarrassment of Brazilian officials that Olympians had been victimized by crime. It looks a little different — assuming the Brazilians actually have the surveillance video as they claim:

Earlier, Larry correctly noted that a false police report (assuming it was false) hardly seemed like a rational basis on which to seize passports. If the athletes committed an assault in the gas station, that does provide a somewhat more substantial basis for detaining them. If surveillance video showed a visiting star athlete assaulting a convenience-store clerk in the US, would we object to a court ordering them to remain here pending the outcome of an investigation? Especially when their home country had a weak and problematic extradition agreement with the US?

If this video exists, it does shine a much different light on these American swimmers. Their changing stories make it look as though they’re less victims and more foolish and immature travelers who don’t quite grasp the dangers thet could create for themselves, let alone the existing dangers in Rio. Still, this seems a bit penny-ante for the dramatic arrest on a plane and the demand that passports be seized. Wouldn’t it have been better to simply expel them and put them on a persona non grata list for re-entry? It’s not The Great Train Robbery, after all.

Update: Reuters hears the same thing, adding that the swimmers paid for the damage done:

If that’s the case, then why all the bother? That’s not to excuse their behavior (assuming this is true), but it seems like a very large overreaction by Brazilian authorities. Might be a long time before international sporting events will return … but these Olympics shouldn’t have been been there in the first place for a multitude of reasons.

This seems like the wisest stance possible: