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US swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger stopped at Rio airport

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Brazilian authorities have stopped American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger from boarding a flight at Rio de Janeiro airport. The two athletes were removed from their plane late on Wednesday for questioning in connection with a robbery they reported in Rio at the weekend.

A spokesperson for the United States Olympic Committee confirmed the news in a statement. "Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained Wednesday night shortly before their flight was scheduled to depart from Rio," it read.


Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were removed from their flight late on Wednesday

"They were released by local authorities with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday."

Gunnar and Jack were with teammates Ryan Lochte and James Feigen when they were allegedly robbed at gunpoint in a taxi in the early hours of Sunday morning as they returned to the Olympic village.  James and Ryan were also barred from leaving the country – but Ryan has already returned to the US.

The statement added: "James Feigen is also communicating with local authorities and intends to make further statements regarding the incident on Thursday as well."


The two men were taken for questioning in connection with the robbery they reported

Ryan's lawyer, meanwhile, confirmed the sportsman had returned to the US two days ago. "He arrived back before the judge issued anything," Jeffrey Ostrow told the BBC. "He was never asked to remain for further investigation or for any other purpose after he met with Brazilian authorities after he gave a statement."

According to local reports, police are concerned about inconsistencies in the group's accounts. An investigation has apparently failed to turn up evidence to back up their claims, prompting a judge to order police to seize the swimmers' passports to prevent them from leaving the country.


Ryan Lochte has spoken to the press about the incident

Officials say they have not been able to track down the driver who was with the swimmers at the time of the incident, and CCTV footage of their return to the athletes' village appears to show the men laughing and joking, and handing over their wallets and phones as they go through security screens.  

João Silva Oliveira of the Municipal Guard previously told People that the foursome weren't able to tell police what the taxi looked like and had conflicting answers about how many men with guns were involved in the incident. 

"What they said to us, it did not make sense. We cannot investigate a crime if we don't know what happened and what they told us is not correct," Silva Oliverira said. "We want to know why they were in the area where they were robbed and what happened. They did not tell us until later."