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Phelps out 3 months

USA Swimming levies suspension

M. PHELPSOut at Kellogg M. PHELPSOut at Kellogg
By Paul Newberry and Beth Harris
Associated Press / February 6, 2009
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Michael Phelps was suspended from competition for three months by USA Swimming, the latest fallout from a photo that showed the Olympic great inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

The sport's national governing body also cut off its financial support to Phelps for the same three-month period, effective yesterday.

"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero," the Colorado Springs-based federation said in a statement.

"Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust."

Phelps won a record eight gold medals in Beijing and returned to America as one of the world's most acclaimed athletes. Now he's enduring a wave of bad news in the wake of the photo published Sunday by News of the World, a British tabloid.

Earlier yesterday, cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. announced it wouldn't renew its sponsorship contract with Phelps, saying his behavior is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg."

The swimmer appeared on the company's cereal boxes after his Olympic triumph.

"Michael accepts these decisions and understands their point of view," said one of his agents, Drew Johnson. "He feels bad he let anyone down. He intends to work hard to regain everyone's trust."

Phelps's coach, Bob Bowman, said he believes Phelps will emerge from the experience a stronger swimmer and person.

"Michael's been through a lot and he's learned a lot, hopefully," Bowman told the Associated Press during a telephone interview. "I support him and I want to see him do better. He's learned some tough lessons and he's disappointed a lot of people, me included."

Phelps had planned to compete in early March at a Grand Prix meet in Austin, Texas. Now he won't be able to compete until early May, which would give him a little more than two months for some racing before July's world championships in Rome.

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