Facebook Twitter



Two U.S. double-gold-medal winners and a third American were questioned by police for seven hours Saturday after allegedly removing a marble lion's head from a hotel, police said.

Police officials, who declined to be identified in keeping with official practice, said swimmers Doug Gjertsen of Atlanta and Troy Dalbey of San Jose, Calif., and a coach identified as Ernest Mangwni Jr. could be called for questioning next week about the incident.A senior police officer said the Americans could face charges of aggravated theft.

Mangwni was not listed among the main U.S. coaches, and the U.S. Olympic Committee said he was not a member of the official delegation.

The U.S. Olympic Committee said Gjertsen and Dalbey, who reportedly plans to attend Brigham Young University, had been confined to the Athletes Village while the incident was investigated and "appropriate action would be taken."

Chief U.S. swimming coach Richard Quick said the swimmers could be sent home or face other disciplinary action if the complaint was substantiated.

Quick said the charges had been dropped, but police officials said they were still investigating the incident.

Police said the three were detained in the Itaewon District at 4 a.m. Saturday after allegedly removing a marble lion's head decoration worth $830 from the Hyatt Hotel. The three were carrying it around the streets, police said.

The USOC, however, said it had been told the incident involved a piece of decorative concrete with an engraving on the top.

The three Americans were detained by police on a complaint from the hotel and were taken to the Itaewon police post and questioned for three hours, police officials said.

The three were later taken to Yongsan police station and held for four hours before being released in the custody of a U.S. diplomat who signed a guarantee that the three would return for questioning Tuesday, officials said.

The Korean Broadcasting System, the state-run television network, reported that a U.S. diplomat gained the three Americans' release by claiming the swimmers were competing Saturday.