The story that Ryan Lochte told four days ago was frightening and detailed, the Olympic gold medalist recalling a late-night robbery and a pistol pressed against his head.
On Thursday, Brazilian authorities presented evidence they say contradicts that account and could turn what at first had been a deeply embarrassing incident for the Summer Games’ host country into a different kind of international incident.
The head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, Fernando Veloso, said the version of the events told by Lochte and three U.S. swimming teammates was fabricated. The athletes, he said, damaged a gas station bathroom early Sunday morning and were involved in a confrontation with armed security before paying about $50 to resolve the matter.
A Jury of Appeals granted a protest by the United States on the outcome of second heat of the women’s 400-meter relay, in which the U.S. relay was disqualified after dropping the baton.
Ruling that the runner had been obstructed by a Brazilian runner at the second exchange (from Allyson Felix to English Gardner) the jury ruled that the U.S. women will rerun the race alone Thursday night. After Thursday's first heats, China was in eighth place with a time of 42.70 seconds. If the U.S. beats that time, they will advance to Friday's final.
Ryan Lochte may have hightailed it out of Rio de Janeiro in the wake of his much-disputed tale of being a victim of an armed robbery, but his sponsors haven’t abandoned the 12-time Olympic medalist.
A Speedo spokesman confirmed Thursday that the now-notorious swimmer continues to be sponsored by the swimwear brand. As for whether they will stand by him, the spokesman said: “Speedo is following the situation, and has a policy not to comment on ongoing legal investigations.”
A Ralph Lauren spokesman said Thursday: “We are working closely with the [U.S. Olympic Committee] on the developments in Rio and are reviewing the situation.”
Team USA captain Sue Bird missed Thursday’s semifinal because of a right knee injury, but that did not much matter for the United States, which advanced to Saturday’s gold-medal game with a 86-67 victory over France on Thursday.
The United States led by just four at halftime but turned up the defensive intensity out of the locker room and outscored France 25-8 in the third quarter.
Diana Taurasi had 18 points for the United States while Maya Moore added 15.
The U.S. women’s 400-meter relay team, given a second chance to reach the Rio Olympic final after successfully appealing its disqualification from its first-round heat, got the baton around the track safely in a rerun Thursday night and earned a chance to compete for a gold medal in Friday’s final.
The team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Morolake Akinosun had been disqualified from its heat Thursday morning after Felix was bumped by Brazil's Kauiza Venancio and was thrown off stride, causing her to make a faulty exchange to Gardner. The baton fell and Gardner picked it up, on Felix’s urging, and they finished the race. However, they and the Brazilian teams were disqualified. USA Track and Field officials sought relief from a Jury of Appeals on the basis that Felix had been impeded; the jury agreed and granted the rerun.
The same four athletes ran in the same order, but they were the only runners on the track. Their handoffs were fine and they were timed in 41.77 seconds, the top qualifying time. However, because they earned the spot in a rerun they are considered to have qualified for the final on time and will run in Lane 1 or Lane 8 instead of a prime middle lane. China timed at 42.70 seconds — a few hundredths behind Canada — and was dropped out of the field for the final.
Helen Maroulis of the United States defeated Japan's Saori Yoshida 4-1 in the 53-kilogram freestyle final to win the first-ever gold medal for an American women's wrestler.
Maroulis celebrated Thursday's win by running around the mat in a circle and holding the United States flag with both hands while it was draped over her back.
Yoshida was a 16-time world champion who was going for her fourth gold. She hadn't lost in a major tournament in years, but she had been less dominant in recent tournaments. Maroulis was on a two-year win streak of her own.