Two American swimmers who were with teammate Ryan Lochte the night of an alleged robbery will not be allowed to leave Brazil until they provide testimony about the events of that night.
Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were heading home to the United States when authorities stopped them from leaving on a flight Wednesday night. Authorities are still seeking answers about how they allegedly were robbed Sunday morning.
Sergio Riera, a Brazilian attorney for Conger and Bentz, said they left the Rio de Janeiro airport for an unspecified location in Brazil and have yet to testify. The swimmers did not speak to reporters upon leaving the airport and getting shuttled away in a black car waiting outside.
The athletes said Sunday that they were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi as they returned to the athletes village from a party, several hours after the final Olympic swimming events were held. Police have found little evidence to support their accounts.
Earlier Wednesday, a Brazilian judge ordered the passports of Lochte and fellow U.S. swimmer Jimmy Feigen be seized, confining them to the country as authorities investigate their robbery allegations. However, Lochte said he has returned to the U.S.
"Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained Wednesday night shortly before their flight was scheduled to depart from Rio," U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. "They were released by local authorities with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday. James Feigen is also communicating with local authorities and intends to make further statements regarding the incident on Thursday, as well. We will continue to provide updated information as it is appropriate."
A police source told ESPN Brasil that Conger and Bentz were interviewed for just more than three hours at the airport, with a Brazilian lawyer and representatives from the USOC and the American consulate present. According to the source, the swimmers said that, upon recommendation from their lawyers, they were choosing not to speak at that time. The source added that neither swimmer appeared nervous; they seemed calm and did not ask for any food or drinks.
They were told that, per the judge's order, they would not get their passports back until they gave an official interview to Brazilian authorities, the source said. After being told that, they were instructed to go to DEAT, a precinct that is part of the civil police in Rio de Janeiro, where they could give that interview.
Brazilian officials who addressed the media early Thursday morning at the airport said they were holding the passports of Conger and Bentz.
Representatives from the U.S. consulate arrived at the airport shortly after the swimmers were held. Consulate spokesman David Fogelson told reporters he could not add any details.
Feigen, who also was present during the alleged robbery, remained in Brazil on Wednesday and told USA Today Sports he was "just trying to give Brazil what they need or what they want and get out of here."
"It's a hassle," Feigen said. "But I'm safe. Everything's fine. Until this goes in a direction where I can see it, I can't comment."
NBC spoke with Lochte on Wednesday night and reported that Lochte said he had left Rio and already returned home, as originally scheduled.
Lochte backtracked on his initial comments to the network made Sunday, saying the barrel of the gun he had said was placed to his forehead was instead pointed in his direction. He also said the taxi wasn't pulled over but that the swimmers were robbed after making a stop at a gas station.
He said when he was interviewed by police about the incident that no one had suggested he needed to stay in Brazil nor had any officials expressed doubts over his account of the robbery, NBC reported.
The police interview was friendly and casual, much less intense than one he went through with police in the U.S. when he reported a home burglary, he said.
According to The Daily Mail, a prosecutor said the swimmers did not seem shaken and were even playing around in surveillance video when they returned to the Olympic village. The four also were said to have made contradictory statements to police, The Daily Mail reported.
Steve Bentz, father of Gunnar Bentz, when reached by phone late Wednesday night, said, "I really don't want to say anything,'' and hung up.
Lochte's father had told The Associated Press by phone that his gold-medal-winning son called him after arriving in the U.S. and told him he was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one he said was stolen during the robbery.
"I'm just happy he's safe," Steve Lochte said. "It was an unfortunate experience for him and the other three. I don't know what all the controversy is. They were basically taken out of the taxi and robbed. The main thing is he's very lucky that he's safe and that all they got was his cash and wallet."
AP reporters waiting outside Lochte's home in North Carolina did not see the 12-time Olympic medalist.
The office of Judge Keyla Blank confirmed the order to seize the swimmers' passports in a statement Wednesday.
The USOC said police went to the athletes village Wednesday morning to try to collect the passports, but the swim team had already moved out. Sandusky declined to say whether Lochte and Feigen were still in the country.
"As part of our standard security protocol, we do not make athlete travel plans public and therefore cannot confirm the athletes' current location," Sandusky said. "We will continue to cooperate with Brazilian authorities."
The U.S. State Department issued a statement Wednesday encouraging those involved to cooperate with Brazilian law enforcement.
Police previously said the swimmers were unable to provide key details during interviews.
"Why would anybody fabricate anything?" Steve Lochte said. "It's just ridiculous."
A police official with knowledge of the investigation told the AP that police could not find their taxi driver or witnesses to the robbery. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Lochte's attorney, Jeff Ostrow, has said there is no question the robbery happened.
"My opinion is they are trying to use Ryan's situation to use as a scapegoat to show that things down there are not as bad as it looks," Ostrow told ESPN on Wednesday. "These types of things have happened with other people ... but they don't take half the interest they do with Ryan.
"If they don't like the level of the detail that they've gotten from the statement ... then call me and we can give them more. Ryan is the victim here. You take one of the Brazilian authorities and put a gun to their head on a random street in America in the middle of the night, and I guarantee they wouldn't be absolutely accurate with all the details.
"They can do and say whatever they want down there. The fact remains they were robbed at gunpoint."
Information from ESPN Brasil's Gabriela Moreira was used in this report.