Michael Phelps has been handed a six month suspension from USA Swimming for his most recent Driving Under the Influence arrest. This means the 29 year-old swimming champion will be unable to compete in US Grand Prix meets in Minneapolis, Austin, and Orlando. He is expected to be able to return to top level US swimming competition at the Mesa, Arizona meet starting on April 15 2015.
While Phelps will certainly miss the top level competition, he is still free to train at his North Baltimore club. Phelps has already qualified for the world championships to be held in Russia, next August. He fully intends to compete at this meet, the largest competition leading up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
Michael Phelps has had a spotty history with the law. In 2004 he was arrested for driving a vehicle while intoxicated. In 2009 he was suspended for having being photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe (even though he was not formally charged).
Phelps took to social media to inform the world of his ban. “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,” he posted on Twitter.
He has also indicated his intention to embark upon a six-week in-patient rehabilitation program.
This is the harshest ever punishment imposed on Phelps. It will seriously damage his build up for the world championships next year and may even impact upon his fitness for the Rio de Janiro Olympics. USA Swimming cited a section of its 2014 Rule Book claiming Phelps had violated its Code of Conduct. “Michaels’s conduct was serious and required significant consequences,” said USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus. “We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”