TAMPA, Fla. — Olympic great Michael Phelps has acknowledged “regrettable” behavior and “bad judgment” after a photo in a British newspaper showed him smoking marijuana.
In a statement released to The Associated Press, the swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games conceded the authenticity of the exclusive picture published Sunday by the tabloid News of the World.
Phelps said: “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”
The newspaper, News of the World, said the picture was taken during a November house party while Phelps was visiting the University of South Carolina. During that trip, he attended one of the school’s football games and received a big ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.
The party occurred nearly three months after the Olympics, while Phelps was taking a long break from training, and apparently would have no impact on the eight golds he won at Beijing. He has never tested positive for banned substances and even agreed to extra testing before the games.
Phelps was in Tampa, Fla., during Super Bowl week to make promotional appearances on behalf of a sponsor. But he left the city before Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, abandoning his original plan to be at Raymond James Stadium.