Ryan Lochte defends Rio robbery account to Matt Lauer: 'We wouldn't make this story up'

/ Source: TODAY

Ryan Lochte defended his account of being robbed in Rio — telling Matt Lauer he and his fellow swimmers were "victims" — only for reports to emerge that indicate they were anything but.

"We wouldn't make this story up," Matt said Thursday morning, quoting Lochte. The two had spoken on the phone during an on-the-record conversation Wednesday.

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"We're victims in this and we're happy that we're safe," Lochte said to Matt.

But according to local officials, Lochte and his fellow swimmers damaged a bathroom door at a gas station before returning to the athletes' village early Sunday.

"There was no robbery the way it was reported or claimed by the athletes," a Brazilian police official said Thursday.

During his phone call with Matt, Lochte appeared to change some of the details of his story.

In an interview taped Sunday, Lochte told TODAY's Billy Bush the assailants pretended to be police — and put a gun to his head when he initially resisted their demands.

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"The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and said 'get down.' I was like (puts hands up) I put my hands up. I was like 'whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet."

But in his conversation with Matt, Lochte said the gun was pointed in his "general direction."

The swimmer's account of being forced off the road also appeared to change.

"We got pulled over in our taxi and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge. No lights, no nothing, just a police badge. They pulled us over, they pulled out their guns," Lochte initially told Billy.

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But Lochte told Matt the taxi he was in was not forced off the road. He said they had stopped at a gas station to use the men's room when they were robbed.

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, two of the U.S. swimmers who were with Lochte, were taken off a plane by Brazilian authorities late Wednesday.

RELATED: Read what Lochte initially told Billy Bush

The two were eventually released "with the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

The fourth member of the group, swimmer Jimmy Feigen, is still in Brazil and is cooperating with local authorities, according to the USOC, along with Bentz and Conger.