US swimmers Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen have been in the centre of controversy after claiming that they had been robbed at gunpoint while in Rio for the Olympic Games before CCTV footage was discovered which suggested that their story may have been fabricated, and that the group were actually forced to pay damages after vandalising a petrol station.
Shortly after the footage was revealed, Ryan released a message on his Instagram apologising for his actions, and now fellow team member Gunnar has spoken about the controversy, offering a "sincere apology" for his part in the alleged fabrication.
Gunnar released a statement following the controversy
Releasing a statement, the Olympic swimmer wrote: "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.
"While I am anxious to put this matter behind me…I feel compelled to stress several key points…I was never a suspect in the case from the beginning (Brazilian law enforcement officials saw me only as a witness)…I never made a false statement to anyone at any time."
He continued to tell his version of events from the night, where the team supposedly vandalised a petrol station. He said: "There was a locked door out back and I did not witness anyone breaking it open. I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall."
CCTV footage revealed that the team members fabricated their story
He continued to say that Ryan had argued with security guards who brought their guns out when the teammates attempted to leave, saying: "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.
Ryan released a statement on his Instagram
Ryan, who won a gold medal in Rio, took to Instagram to apologise and defend his actions on Friday, writing: "It's traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country – with a language barrier –and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behaviour of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors and the hosts of this great event."
Another team mate, Jimmy, has agreed to pay £8,200 to a Brazilian charity as compensation for his part in the controversy.