- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2009

Olympic great Michael Phelps acknowledged “regrettable” behavior and “bad judgment” after a photo in a British newspaper Sunday showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games did not dispute the authenticity of the exclusive picture published Sunday by the tabloid News of the World.

“I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,” Phelps said in the statement released by one of his agents. “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.”

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.

While the newspaper did not specifically say Phelps was smoking pot, it did say the pipe is generally used for that purpose and anonymously quoted a partygoer who said the Olympic champion was “out of control from the moment he got there.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee said it was “disappointed in the behavior recently exhibited by Michael Phelps,” who was selected the group’s sportsman of the year. He also was honored as AP male athlete of the year, and his feat in Beijing - breaking Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record for most gold medals in an Olympics - was chosen as the top story of 2008.

“Michael is a role model, and he is well aware of the responsibilities and accountability that come with setting a positive example for others, particularly young people,” the USOC said in a statement. “In this instance, regrettably, he failed to fulfill those responsibilities.”

The party occurred nearly three months after the Olympics while Phelps was taking a long break from training, and this apparently would have no impact on the eight gold medals he won at Beijing. He has never tested positive for banned substances and even agreed to extra testing before the games.

Marijuana is viewed differently from performance-enhancing drugs, according to David Howman, executive director of the World Anti-Doping Agency. An athlete is subject to WADA sanctions only for a positive test that occurs during competition periods.

“We don’t have any jurisdiction,” Howman said. “It’s not banned out of competition. It’s only if you test positive in competition.”


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide