Ryan Lochte and other US Olympic swimmers 'were not victims': Rio official

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Swimmers Conger and Bentz Leave Brazil

The four U.S. Olympic swimmers who claimed they were victims of an armed robbery in Rio were actually the ones causing trouble that night, and they fabricated their account of the incident, Rio's police chief said Thursday.

Although officials did admit that local security guards pulled a gun on Ryan Lochte and his fellow swimmers and extracted about $50 in cash from them.

The U.S. Olympic Committee apologized to Brazil for the swimmers' behavior Thursday night, calling the incident a "distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence."

"Right now, as we speak, what the police can affirm — there was no robbery the way it was reported or claimed by the athletes," Fernando Veloso, chief of the Rio civil police, said in Portuguese at a news conference Thursday. "They were not victims of the criminal actions that they claimed they were."

Video shows U.S. swimmers at gas station bathroom

Veloso said surveillance video and witness accounts confirmed that the swimmers, including Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, damaged a bathroom door at a gas station in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood before they returned to the athletes' village early Sunday.

The athletes had told officials and media outlets, including TODAY, that they were robbed at gunpoint. But as inconsistencies in their story emerged, speculation rose.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: Ryan Lochte of the United States attends a press conference in the Main Press Center on Day 7 of the Rio Olympics on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Semifinal - Men's 200m Individual Medley Semifinals - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Ryan Lochte (USA) of USA competes REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Men's 200m Individual Medley Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 11/08/2016. Ryan Lochte (USA) of USA reacts. REUTERS/David Gray FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Aug 9, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Conor Dwyer (USA) , Townley Haas (USA) , Ryan Lochte (USA) and Michael Phelps (USA) with their gold medals after the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Swimmer Ryan Lochte poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 7, 2016. "One of my favorite songs is 'Sky's the Limit' by Lil Wayne," said Lochte. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Swimmer Ryan Lochte poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Ryan Lochte of USA competes in the Men's 200m Freestyle Final on day one of the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) at the Hamad Aquatic Centre on December 3, 2014 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 08: Ryan Lochte (L) and Nathan Adrian of the United States celebrate winning the gold medal in a new world record time of 3:23.05 in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final on day fifteen of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 8, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Swimmer Ryan Lochte poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 16: Ryan Lochte swims in the Men's 400 meter individual medley during the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin on January 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
US Ryan Lochte competes in the final of the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 06: Ryan Lochte of the United States competes his way to the gold medal in the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final on day thirteen of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 6, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Ryan Lochte of the United States competes in the Men's 200m Individual Medley Semi-Finals on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Swimmer Ryan Lochte poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jul 1, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Ryan Lochte reacts after the mens 200 meter individual medley final in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JULY 16: Ryan Lochte talks with the media during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Training Camp Media Day on July 16, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JULY 01: Ryan Lochte of the United States prepares to compete in a final heat for the Men's 200 Meter Individual Medley during Day Six of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 1, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 30: Ryan Lochte of the United States reacts after competing in a semi-final heat for the Men's 200 Meter Individual Medley during Day Five of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 30, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 26: Ryan Lochte of the United States looks on after the final heat for the Men's 400 Meter Individual Medley during Day One of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 26, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 27: Ryan Lochte of the United States looks on after competing in a heat for the Men's 200 Meter Freestyle during Day Two of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 27, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 29: Ryan Lochte of the United States prepares to compete in a preliminary heat of the Men's 100 meter freestyle during Day 4 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 29, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 15: Ryan Lochte swims the breaststroke leg of a preliminary heat of the men's 200m IM during the 2016 Arena Pro Swim Series at Charlotte swim meet at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center on May 15, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 14: Ryan Lochte starts the Men 200 LC Meter Freestyle final at Skyline Aquatic Center on April 14, 2016 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 12: Ryan Lochte and his coach David Marsh speak to the media at a press conference prior to the 2016 Arena Pro Swim Series Charlotte swim meet at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center on May 12, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11, 2016: Michael Phelps (L) and Ryan Lochte of the United States look on after the men's 200m individual medley final at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. It is 22nd Olympic gold for Phelps. Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS (Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images)
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According to Veloso, the swimmers took a taxi from a club to the gas station and then vandalized the restroom, breaking the mirror, a soap dispenser and other things.

When local security guards saw them, they told the cab driver not to let them leave, but the athletes insisted on going, Veloso said.

One guard then used a "firearm to control" the swimmers — and demanded they pay for the vandalism, he said.

Video Shows U.S. Swimmers Entering Club

A witness who spoke English and Portuguese came up and translated between the two parties, explaining that the athletes had to pay for the damage before they could leave, Veloso said.

The Americans paid $20 U.S. plus 100 Brazilian reals ($30 U.S.) to the guards, according to the account.

Veloso said investigators would look into whether the guards overstepped their bounds, but he said it didn't appear the Americans' claims were accurate.

"We don't have anything that could say there was any kind of excess" force used, Veloso said. "Their claim that they were a victim of an assault or a robbery or any kind of violence is not true."

As for the Americans, they could be face charges of false testimony and vandalism.

"We need to understand what each athlete did in order to understand what the crime was, if there was a crime," Veloso said.

Veloso described Lochte as "very angry" and "intoxicated" after the incident. The gas station guard pulled out his gun because he was nervous about the athletes' size and their aggressive behavior while intoxicated, he said.

Police source: U.S. swimmers damaged bathroom, led to 'altercation'

The FBI is following the investigation.

Two of the swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were pulled off a plane late Wednesday to be questioned by police over the encounter at the Shell gas station.

Their teammate, Jimmy Feigen, has remained in Brazil and is cooperating with authorities, along with Bentz and Conger, Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, or USOC, said earlier Thursday.

"All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio," Sandusky said.

Late Thursday, the USOC issued a strongly worded statement calling the swimmers' behavior "not acceptable," saying it "does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members."

"On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence," the committee said.

Lochte, 32, spoke with police before leaving Brazil this week. His lawyer has said he gave police a statement as representatives from the U.S. State Department, the USOC and the FBI observed. Lochte signed the statement to attest to its truthfulness, his attorney added.

Watch: Video Shows U.S. Swimmers at Rio Gas Station

Bentz and Conger have given statements to police, the USOC said Thursday night, stressing that it hadn't seen the full statements. Bentz's and Conger's passports were returned, and they were allowed to leave Rio, according to the USOC.

At the Rio airport, Sergio Riera, a lawyer for Bentz and Conger, told reporters that his clients "were simply heard as witnesses."

"They went to the police station when they were called and they gave their testimony and helped the investigation, and now they've been awarded with being able to go home," Riera said.

Feigen, meanwhile, revised his statement Thursday night "with the hope of securing the release of his passport as soon as possible," according to the Olympic committee, which said nothing about Lochte's status.

Brazilian judge Keyla Blanc de Cnop said Feigen's account of the confrontation contradicted Lochte's, according to the court's statement.

The men also said the incident took place on the way home from a club, which they left at 4 a.m. But security video showed them leaving at a different time, the judge said.

De Cnop added that Lochte told police that there was one robber, while Feigen said there were more, one of whom had a gun.

Ryan Lochte to Matt Lauer on alleged robbery: 'We wouldn't make this up'

Lochte told TODAY's Matt Lauer in a telephone interview Wednesday night that he returned from Rio after no one told him he should stay in Brazil. He said he told authorities he would remain cooperative.

On the night of the incident, Lochte said, they had stopped at a gas station and then got back in the taxi. The taxi driver did not move, and it was then that two robbers with guns and badges approached the car and ordered the swimmers out of the vehicle and onto the ground, he told Lauer.

Lauer said he asked Lochte about the skepticism that his story may have been concocted as part of a cover-up.

"He strongly denied that, said it's absolutely not the case," Lauer said.

The potential charges the swimmers face, if police believe they gave false or misleading statements to authorities, can carry up to six months in jail. Under Brazil's constitution, ratified in 1988, they have the right to remain silent.

RELATED: Lochte tells morning show about alleged armed robbery

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