October 04, 2016 12:24 PM

Ryan Lochte says Michael Phelps abandoned him as he faced criticism for falsely claiming he was robbed at gunpoint in Rio during the Olympic Games.

“I figured it could have been, like, his people saying, ‘Don’t associate with [Lochte] right now. Lay low,’ ” he told USA Today Sports. “It could be anything.”

Lochte, 32, came under fierce fire after claims that he and three fellow swimmers were held up in the Brazilian municipality turned out to be an attempt to conceal their misdeeds.

He told the publication that he couldn’t reach Phelps, 31, by phone, but the two exchanged text messages as the controversy reached its peak.

“I think he texted me back saying, ‘Yeah, sure. I’m here to help,’ or something like that,” Lochte recalled. “But he didn’t call me. I was like, ‘Hey, can you please call me? Let me know, I need help.’ That never really happened.”

However, during an appearance on Today in August, Phelps said he had contacted the embattled swimmer amid the scandal.

“Ryan and I have been teammates forever and it’s always hard to see a friend and a competitor going through a hard time like this – I know what it feels like. I’ve been through it before,” Phelps said.

“Hopefully he can come out of this a better person. I’ve reached out to him a couple times and I think he understands a lot. He will be able to grow from this.”

Phelps is no stranger to headline-making scandals.

After impressing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Phelps got two DUIs and faced backlash years earlier after a controversial photo surfaced apparently showing him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

Lochte, meanwhile. said he wasn’t hurt by Phelps’ alleged absence.

“He’s busy. He has his own life. He has a kid,” he told USA Today. “So it’s gotta be hard, you know.”

He added that he and the retired swimmer aren’t as good of pals as some would have expected.

“We’re close, but not, like, close-close,” he said. “I could go hang out with him if I wanted to and have like a conversation easily, or we could go get a bite to eat or something like that. But we don’t.”

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