Michael Phelps, most admired Olympic swimmer with 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games apologized for being caught smoking marijuana. The popular 23 year old with multi-million product endorsements on his sleeve had a picture by a British newspaper showing him inhaling pot. The incident allegedly occurred in a party at the University of South Carolina in November last year, prompting South Carolina’s sheriff’s office to investigate for criminal wrong-doing.
“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,” he said. “For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public — it will not happen again.”—CNN.com/crime (02/03/09)
Many said his quick apology was appropriate for damage control. In 2004, pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated (DUI,) Phelps was sentenced to 18 months probation for which he also apologized.
Role models like him run the danger of alienating fans and product sponsors if similar incidents occur in the future. The marijuana incident reveals the error-proneness of the young sports celebrity who supports the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a group which aims to rid competitive sports of prohibited drugs. More infractions by personalities like Phelps make the public wonder if social decorum has been so compromised in the present generation. (Photo Credit Alexandre Battibugli) =0=