ryan lochte
US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte claims he was robbed at gunpoint by criminals posing as policeman at the Rio 2016 Olympic games Getty

US Olympic swimmers lied about being robbed at gunpoint while they were actually involved in a scuffle at a petrol station, Brazilian police have reported.

A tape shows one of four members of the US swimming team breaking down a door of the station and fighting with a security guard, officials told ABC News.

The Americans reportedly paid for the damaged door and left when other security guards were called in.

Three of the swimmers remain in Brazil, while gold medallist Ryan Lochte returned to the US on Monday.

Before it emerged that Lochte had left the country, a judge ordered the passports of the four athletes to be seized so they could be questioned by police about alleged inconsistencies in their accounts.

Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were taken off a flight bound for the US in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday night, while team mate James Feigen remained in Brazil.

Earlier in the week 12-time Olympic medallist Lochte claimed that the group had been held up at gunpoint when returning to their vehicle after visiting the petrol station. In a follow-up interview on Wednesday he modified his account, claiming that the gun had been pointed in their direction not held to his head.

In a statement issued by the USOC the swimmers said they had been held up by armed criminals posing as police officers during a taxi journey from France's hospitality venue back to the Olympic village.