Michael Phelps, the U.S. Olympic swimming champion and most decorated olympian of all time, will enter a six-week inpatient treatment program following his recent DUI. Phelps had been planning a swimming comeback, but with this latest drunk driving arrest, he faces a major setback after being reprimanded by USA Swimming. Entering the rehab facility should help bolster his public image, and may help him get back on track for future swimming success.
Last month, in Baltimore, Maryland, Phelps was pulled over for excessive speeding, and arrested for DUI after he failed a number of field sobriety tests. Officers said he was driving 84 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone. His blood alcohol was tested at 0.14, well over the 0.08 limit. The DUI arrest was Phelps' second, the first occurring in Maryland back in 2004, when he was only 19-years-old. According to Maryland law, this recent arrest is not considered a second offense because the previous conviction occurred more than five years prior.
USA Swimming, the sport's governing body, suspended Phelps for six months, and he will not be able to participate in next year's world championships in Russia. He will be banned from participating in sanctioned meets through April of next year, and has also lost six months of funding as a result of the DUI.
According to USA Swimming's executive director, Chuck Wielgus, Phelps violated the Code of Conduct. “Michael's conduct was serious and required significant consequences. We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions,” said Wielgus.
In addition to the suspensions, he will also lose over $10,000 in stipends from USA Swimming. However, his primary income comes from the number of big endorsements he gets from companies including Subway and Under Armor. There is yet no indication that those endorsements are threatened, which would be a major financial hardship.
Phelps also faces penalties as a result of the criminal DUI charges. His trial is set for November 19th. Under Maryland law, if Phelps is convicted he faces up to one-year in jail, loss of his license for six-months, and a $1,000 fine.
Phelps had come out of retirement this year, seeking even more Olympic metal. He has already won 22 Olympic medals, including 18 gold medals. Because Phelps had already qualified for the world championships next year, this suspension comes as a major blow to his planned comeback, intending to compete at his fifth Olympics. The championships in Russia is the biggest event before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Phelps has not indicated when he plans to return to competition, but the earliest meet may not come until the Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in January 2015.
In a post on social media, Phelps announced he would be entering a six-week inpatient program. “Swimming is a major part of my life, but right now I need to focus my attention on me as an individual, and do the necessary work to learn from this experience and make better decisions in the future,” Phelps said on his Twitter account.