BRAZIL CRIME RIO 2016 CONGER BENTZ.jpg
US swimmer Gunnar Bentz sits in a car leaving a police station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 18 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/FABIO TEIXEIRA

US Olympic swimmer Gunnar Bentz on Friday effectively blamed his teammate Ryan Lochte over a fake robbery story which has angered local authorities in Rio.

In a statement posted on the University of Georgia's website, Bentz apologized for the incident and insisted he had "never made a false statement to anyone at any time" and that he had only ever been a witness and not a suspect in the case.

Lochte had initially said that he and his three teammates - Bentz, James Feigen and Jack Conger - had been robbed at gun point.

However, US Olympic officials later said that one of the athletes had vandalized a gas station and that armed security guards had then demanded money from the swimmers.

After questions began to arise about the robbery story, Brazilian police pulled Bentz and Conger off a return flight to the United States. They were later released after questioning.

Bentz's statement came hours after Lochte, who had already returned to the US when the scandal began to unfold, posted his own apology on Instagram, saying he should have been more "careful and candid" about the incident.

In his statement, Bentz said the group were in a taxi in the early hours of last Sunday when they pulled over to use the toilets at a convenience store.

"There was no restroom inside, so we foolishly relieved ourselves on the backside of the building behind some bushes," he said.

"I am unsure why, but while we were in that area, Ryan pulled to the ground a framed metal advertisement that was loosely anchored to the brick wall," he continued.

Two security guards who demanded the swimmers get out of their taxi as they tried to leave then pulled their guns on them, he said.

"Again, I cannot speak to his actions, but Ryan stood up and began to yell at the guards," Bentz said.

Lochte then became involved in a "heated verbal exchange" with security guards though "no physical contact was made".

Through a man who came over to try and mediate, "one of the guards said that we needed to pay them in order to leave," Bentz said.

He said the swimmers handed over around 50 dollars before the guards allowed them to continue on their way.

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