US swim­mers leave Brazil to jeer­ing crowds

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

BRAZIL­IAN author­i­ties have let two US swim­mers leave Rio af­ter they re­tracted a claim to have been dra­mat­i­cally mugged dur­ing the Olympic Games, of­fi­cials said.

Gun­nar Bentz and Jack Conger were given back their con­fis­cated pass­ports and “re­cently de­parted Rio,” US Olympic Com­mit­tee chief ex­ec­u­tive Scott Black­mun said in a state­ment.

The US Olympic chief apol­o­gised “to our hosts in Rio and the peo­ple of Brazil,” say­ing that the be­hav­iour of the swim­mers was “not ac­cept­able” and that “po­ten­tial con­se­quences” would be de­cided later.

As they left late on Thurs­day, lo­cal crowds jeered at them, call­ing them “liars” and “fakes”.

A third swim­mer, James Feigen, has also given po­lice a re­vised state­ment about the ap­par­ently in­vented mug­ging story “with the hope of se­cur­ing the re­lease of his pass­port as soon as pos­si­ble,” Black­mun said.

Feigen will pay $11,000 to a Brazil­ian char­ity to set­tle the dis­pute, ABC re­ported.

The fourth, swim­ming su­per­star Ryan Lochte, was al­ready back in the United States when the scan­dal erupted. A Brazil­ian judge on Wed­nes­day or­dered all four swim­mers to stay in Brazil while their story was in­ves­ti­gated.

Lochte said last Sun­day that the four were vic­tims of a rob­bery by at least one armed at­tacker pos­ing as a Rio po­lice­man. The claim caused a ma­jor stir at the Olympics and forced Brazil­ian author­i­ties to apol­o­gise for what ap­peared to be a se­cu­rity lapse.

Brazil­ian po­lice, though, said on Thurs­day that the ath­letes were drunk and got into an al­ter­ca­tion with se­cu­rity staff af­ter van­dal­is­ing a petrol sta­tion where they stopped in a taxi to use the toi­let.

Black­mun in­di­cated that the ath­letes, ques­tioned by po­lice on Thurs­day, had re­canted and con­firmed the po­lice ver­sion of the in­ci­dent.

“They stopped at a gas sta­tion to use the re­stroom, where one of the ath­letes com­mit­ted an act of van­dal­ism,” the state­ment said.

“An ar­gu­ment en­sued be­tween the ath­letes and two armed gas sta­tion se­cu­rity staff, who dis­played their weapons, or­dered the ath­letes from their ve­hi­cle and de­manded the ath­letes pro­vide a mon­e­tary pay­ment. Once the se­cu­rity of­fi­cials re­ceived money from the ath­letes, the ath­letes were al­lowed to leave.”

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel El­i­zondo, re­port­ing from Rio, said: “Sur­veil­lance video of that night shows none of the ath­letes - all of whom ad­mit­ted to be­ing in­tox­i­cated - were robbed.

“It [their claim] made head­lines around the world. Now that it’s been proven false, may Brazil­ians are puz­zled and an­gry.”

The pun­ish­ment for falsely re­port­ing a crime in Brazil is ei­ther a six-month sen­tence or a fine. — AlJazeera CHELSEA’S new man­ager An­to­nio Conte has no in­ten­tion of di­lut­ing the pas­sion that caused him to leap into the crowd to cel­e­brate Chelsea’s late win­ning goal in his first Premier League game on Mon­day.

He is tak­ing the same at­ti­tude to volatile striker Diego Costa, scorer of that goal, who some ob­servers felt should have been sent off ear­lier in the game.

“Foot­ball is pas­sion,” Conte told a news con­fer­ence ahead of to­day’s visit to Wat­ford. “If you have this ev­ery day you can work very well.

“When you put a lot of time into your work it’s good to show pas­sion. At Chelsea they are start­ing to know this part of me.

“I am a pas­sion­ate man. I live the game with great pas­sion. I play with my play­ers and I want to feel this from them.

“Some­times when you score an im­por­tant goal and you win you can cel­e­brate. I can­not hold my emo­tion.”

Span­ish in­ter­na­tional Costa, who was twice sus­pended for three matches last sea­son, had al­ready been given a yel­low card when he lunged in on West Ham goal­keeper Adrian, but es­caped with­out fur­ther pun­ish­ment.

“I am happy with his at­ti­tude and his be­hav­iour,” said Conte, who joined Chelsea af­ter Euro 2016, when his emo­tional touch­line an­tics were a high­light of the tour­na­ment.

“We all know Diego. He is a pas­sion­ate foot­baller and some­times it can seem he’s on the edge but he’s a good guy and a good player.”

Chelsea and Conte are both fa­mil­iar with Wat­ford’s new man­ager Wal­ter Maz­zarri from his time in Italy with Napoli.

The Lon­don club re­cov­ered from a 3-1 deficit to knock his team out on their way to win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League in 2012.

Conte came up against him reg­u­larly while in charge of Ju­ven­tus.

“I have great re­spect for him and his work,” he said of his com­pa­triot. “He’s a good man­ager.”

Last sea­son the teams drew both their league meet­ings, 2-2 at Stam­ford Bridge and 0-0 at Wat­ford. — Reuters

Diego Costa and An­to­nio Conte

Gun­nar Bentz and Jack Conger

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