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Some athletes also are coming to his defense.

Mark Spitz, who won seven swimming medals in the 1972 Munich Olympics, expressed his sympathy for Mr. Phelps this week to the press, though he prefaced his feelings with the phrase, “as strictly a fan,” and offered no further comment.

“It is obvious that all sportsmen should set an example to youngsters, but Phelps has asked for forgiveness and faced up to things,” Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo said.

Jon Urbanchek, a University of Michigan coach who worked with Mr. Phelps before the 2008 Olympics, said Friday that he had not “lost the support of the Michigan family,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

“He needs guidance,” Mr. Urbanchek said. “Businesses look at him as a commodity. But Michael is more than a commodity to me. He’s a human being and he needs love and affection, and periodically he needs a shoe up his you know what. That’s how kids are.”