"I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment," the record-setting American athlete said in a statement issued Sunday.
"I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me," Phelps said. "For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again."
I'm sure he's sincere about that. He's certainly got a lot to lose. The endorsements which followed his astonishing Olympic success amount to an estimated $100 million.
But the reports in today's news point out that in 2004, he was arrested for driving under the influence. At that time he said almost the same thing, apologizing, but qualifying it with mention of his young age.
What does it all mean? Some fans are disappointed; others say he's human like the rest of us. I say, he's not like the rest of us at all. His accomplishments in the sport of swimming are nothing short of miraculous. To have done that while occasionally indulging in drugs and alcohol makes it even more amazing. I'd say it's obvious that his partying was always kept to a minimum, never allowed to interfere, or he wouldn't have achieved what he did.
What I wonder is, could his behaviour with pot and drinking, occasional as it has been, indicate some latent problem that will manifest itself in increased abuse and more trouble in his future? Time will tell.
What's your opinion? Do athletes like Michael have a greater responsibility, being role models and all that? Should they be held to a higher standard? Or should the public stay out of his private life?
Please feel free to leave a comment.