The most decorated Olympian of all time, was suspended for six months by USA Swimming on Monday (Oct 6) following his recent arrest on a drink driving charge.
American swimmer Phelps, who recently returned to top-level competition after a two-year retirement, will also not be allowed to represent the United States at the 2015 FINA World Swimming Championships in Russia next August and forfeit his monthly stipend during the suspension period, USA Swimming said in a statement
Phelps apologised for the incident and in a series of tweets on Sunday (Oct 5) said that he was checking himself into rehab for six weeks.
“Membership in USA Swimming, and particularly at the National Team level, includes a clear obligation to adhere to our Code of Conduct,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said in a statement.
“Should an infraction occur, it is our responsibility to take appropriate action based on the individual case. Michael’s conduct was serious and required significant consequences.”
Phelps was arrested last week after speeding and then crossing the double-lane lines inside a Baltimore tunnel, police said, adding he was clocked by radar travelling 135 kmh in a 72 kmh zone.
Documents indicate that Phelps registered 0.14 per cent on a Breathalyser test when he was pulled over, 0.06 per cent above the legal limit in the state of Maryland.
The arrest marked the second time the 29-year-old Baltimore-area native had been arrested for drunken driving, the first being in 2004, which he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of driving while impaired in exchange for 18 months’ probation.
Although the 18 times Olympic gold medallist has not indicated his desire to compete in the 2016 Olympics, his recent return to the pool suggests that he wants to stage a comeback after his retirement after the 2012 London Olympics.
He is ineligible to participate in any USA Swimming-sanctioned competitions through March 6, 2015, but the suspension does not rule him out of the Rio Olympics because he is still able to train with his member club during his suspension.
Also the USA Swimming team trials for the Olympics will only be held in June 26 to Jul 3, 2016, reported USA Today.
Dara Torres, a 12-time Olympic medalist, said she believed Phelps could still make the US squad for Rio de Janeiro.
“I don’t think the suspension is going to affect him physically, because they’re not saying he can’t train. He just can’t compete,” Torres, a former teammate of Phelps, told Reuters.
“He can still stay in shape and he knows what to expect and how to compete. It’s not like he’s starting something new.”
Source: Reuters, USA Today, Twitter