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."
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.
PHOTOS: Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte through his career
Ryan Lochte through his career
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)
ATHENS, Greece: US Ryan Lochte poses on the podium after winning the men's 200m individual medley final, at the 2004 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatic Center in Athens, 19 August 2004. Lochte took the silver medal. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images)
MONTREAL - JULY 29: (L-R) Markus Rogan of Austria wins the silver medal, Aaron Peirsol of the United States wins the gold medal and Ryan Lochte of the United States wins the bronze medal in the 200 meter Backstroke final during the XI FINA World Championships at the Parc Jean-Drapeau on July 29, 2005 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Peirsol set a new world record of 1:54.66. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 09: Ryan Lochte of the USA celebrates winning gold and breaking the world record with USA team mate Jayme Cramer in the men's 200m backstroke final during day five of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) held at Qi Zhong Stadium on April 9, 2006 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - DECEMBER 01: World-Record Holder Ryan Lochte of Florida swims the Butterfly leg in the Men's 400M Individual Medley Prelim Heats during the 2006 U.S. Open of Swimming on December 1, 2006 at the Boilermaker Aquatics Center in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Ryan Lochte of the USA poses with his silver medal following the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final during the XII FINA World Championships at the Rod Laver Arena on March 29, 2007 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Michael Phelps of the United States (L) celebrates victory and a new world record in the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final with second place Ryan Lochte of the United States during the XII FINA World Championships at the Rod Laver Arena on April 1, 2007 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Ryan Lochte attends THE CINEMA SOCIETY with CHANEL BEAUTE & VOGUE host the after party for 'THE DUCHESS' at Cooper Square Hotel on September 10, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by BiLLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 13: Ryan Lochte of the United States finishes the Men's 200m Backstroke Heat 6 in first place held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 5 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
' Ryan Lochte of USA displays his medal to the media photographers after receiving the Gold medal for the Men's 400m IM at the World Swimming Championships in Rome, Italy on Sunday, August 2, 2009. Photo Tim Clayton ' (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Ryan Lochte attends Cocktails with a Cause benefitting Sophie's Voice Foundation at the Hearst Tower on September 14, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 690 -- Pictured: (l-r) Olympian Ryan Lochte during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on August 24, 2012 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Ryan Lochte appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
US swimmer Ryan Lochte reacts after he competed in the final of the men's 200-metre individual medley swimming event in the FINA World Championships at the indoor stadium of the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on July 28, 2011. Lochte won the men's 200m individual medley in world record time, beating team-mate Michael Phelps. Lochte lowered his own record by one tenth of a second to 1min 54.00sec. AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 28: Ryan Lochte of the United States poses with his gold medal after winning in a new world record time the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final during Day Thirteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 28, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 16: Ryan Lochte of USA reacts after swimming the last leg on the Men's 4x100m Medely Relay during day five of the 11th FINA Short Course World Championships at the Sinan Erdem Dome on December 16, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
US swimmer Michael Phelps (C) poses on the podium with the gold medal flanked by silver medalist US swimmer Ryan Lochte (R) and bronze medalist Hungary's Laszlo Cseh (L) after winning the men's 200m individual medley swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 2, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 21: Swimmer Ryan Lochte (L) and singer Miley Cyrus speak onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 21, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
Gold medalist US swimmer Ryan Lochte (C), silver medalist Japan's Kosuke Hagino (L) and bronze medalist Brazil's Thiago Pereira pose on the podium during the award ceremony of the men's 200-metre individual medley swimming event in the FINA World Championships at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona on August 1, 2013. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 06: Ryan Lochte of USA looks on after the Men's 100m Individual Medley heats on day four of the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) at the Hamad Aquatic Centre on December 6, 2014 in Doha, Qatar (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Ryan Lochte attends the 2015 USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards at J.W. Marriot at L.A. Live on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/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)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 9: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Francis Haas (hidden) of Team USA celebrate winning the gold medal during the medal ceremony of the men's 200m freestyle relay on day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 2306' - The nine remaining celebrities ready themselves for one of the hottest nights in the ballroom - Latin Night - with each celebrity performing either a rumba, salsa, samba, paso doblï¿½ cha cha or Argentine tango, on 'Dancing with the Stars,' live, MONDAY, OCTOBER 17 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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