Ryan Lochte, three other US Olympic swimmers robbed in Rio

News of the incident first broke with Lochte's mother, Ileana telling US media that her son was held up at gunpoint.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

USA's Michael Phelps (L) and USA's Ryan Lochte celebrate on the podium after they won the Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016.

US gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte and three team mates were robbed in a taxi hold-up by men posing as armed police officers, the US Olympic Committee said on Sunday.

The robbers demanded their money and other items, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. An International Olympic Committee spokesman had earlier denied that Lochte had been held up at gunpoint.

"According to four members of the US Olympic Swimming Team [Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte], they left France House early Sunday morning in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village," Sandusky said.

"Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes' money and other personal belongings.

"All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities."

News of the incident first broke with Lochte's mother, Ileana telling US media that her son was held up at gunpoint.

"I think they're all shaken up. There were a few of them," Ileana Lochte told USA Today. "No, they were just, they just took their wallets and basically that was it."

But IOC spokesman Mark Adams insisted at a daily media briefing that the reports were "absolutely not true."

Lochte and friends had been attending a party with Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira at Club France, a hospitality complex on the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon run by the French Olympic Committee.

Amid the conflicting reports, Rio's famed Copacabana and Ipanema beaches have been made off-limits to Australian athletes after dark.

Australian Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller said the country's swimmers -- now free to sight-see after completion of their competition -- were among the Aussie delegation that have been instructed to take extra precautions when outside secure Olympic areas.

"There's been a lot of increased petty criminal, but criminal, activity on the actual beaches," Chiller said, explaining that the no-go zone included the sandy beaches but not the boardwalks.

Thefts and muggings, common in Rio, have become the talk of the town around the Olympics. A government minister, athletes, coaches and press photographers have all fallen victim.

Australian team members had already been instructed to travel in groups of three and use vehicles for transport after dark "even if you're only going 4- or 500 meters," Chiller said.

TRTWorld and agencies