BALTIMORE (WJZ) — USA Swimming suspends Michael Phelps and bans him from the 2015 FINA World Championships.
The news comes just a day after Phelps announced he’s diving into rehab following his most recent DUI arrest.
Derek Valcourt has more on the punishment and the Baltimore Bullet’s decision to get treatment.
USA Swimming says he violated their code of conduct and therefore won’t be competing on their 2015 World Championship Team.
According to organization, Phelps’ suspension was necessary as his actions violated the organizations code of conduct which states, “Any other material and intentional act, conduct or omission not provided for above, which is detrimental to the image or reputation of USA Swimming, a LSC or the sport of swimming.”
On Sunday, Phelps said he’s going into a six-week treatment program to better understand himself.
He is banned from competing with USA Swimming until March 6, 2015 — the decision means he will not represent the U.S. in the World Championships in Russia next summer. He is also would forfeiting his monthly stipend for six months as well. He can , however, train in its facilities.
“Membership in USA Swimming, and particularly at the National Team level, includes a clear obligation to adhere to our Code of Conduct. 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,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said. “Michael has publicly acknowledged the impact of his decisions, his accountability especially due to his stature in the sport and the steps necessary for self-improvement. We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”
The 29-year-old hasn’t spoken publicly since he was pulled over last week in his Land Rover near the Fort McHenry tunnel and arrested for a DUI after he’d spent hours drinking and gambling at Baltimore’s new Horseshoe Casino.
But through a statement released to the Associated Press by his representatives at Octagon, Phelps accepts his suspension.
“Michael accepts USA Swimming’s sanctions. He has apologized for his actions and, as he shared yesterday, is taking steps to address them.”
This weekend he announced he’s going to an undisclosed six-week inpatient treatment center, saying via Twitter: “The past few days have been extremely difficult,” Phelps said in a statement. “I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment, and I am extremely disappointed with myself. I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself.”
“It’s a very good start and what he’s doing is he’s taking the first step that’s necessary to recover lifelong,” said Sam Bierman, of Maryland Addiction Recovery Center.
Bierman runs the Maryland Addiction Recovery Center in Towson and says the vast majority of people go to rehab under pressure from the law of from their family.
“But it doesn’t really matter because what happens is when they get into treatment, they usually do some of that self-observation and realize that they do really need to be there and they need to start making some changes,” Bierman said.
“He’s got a very capable (public relations) guy,” John Maroon said, of Maroon PR.
Sports PR executives like Maroon say entering rehab will go a long way in helping to rebuild Phelps image with fans and sponsors — many of whom have already cut him some slack after his first arrest for a DUI back in 2004.
“That’s harder to get out from under than if it were a one-time case,” Maroon added.
Phelps acknowledges swimming is a major part of his life but says, ” right now I need to focus my attention on me as a individual, and do the necessary work to learning from this experience and make better decisions in the future.”
Phelps is set to get out of that inpatient treatment in six weeks — just in time for his Nov. 19 court date on the DUI charge.
Police says Phelps blood alcohol level on the night of his arrest was .14 — almost twice the legal limit.
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