Olympian Michael Phelps apologizes for arrest
BALTIMORE (AP) — Olympic great Michael Phelps apologized Tuesday for his latest brush with the law, saying he was “deeply sorry to everyone I have let down” with an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Police charged the 18-time Olympic champion after officers said he was speeding and failed field sobriety tests when pulled over in his native Baltimore early Tuesday.
This is the second time Phelps has been arrested for DUI, the first coming in 2004 after he competed at the Athens Olympics. He also was photographed using a marijuana pipe after the 2008 Beijing Games, which resulted in a three-month suspension from USA Swimming.
“I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility,” Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, said in a statement. “I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down.”
Phelps retired from competitive swimming after the 2012 London Olympics but he returned to competition in April, signed a long-term sponsorship deal with a new swimsuit company, and has set his sights on competing at Rio in 2016, which would be his fifth Olympics.
The 29-year-old Phelps was charged with driving under the influence, excessive speed and crossing double lane lines in the Fort McHenry Tunnel on Interstate 95 in his native Baltimore, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The agency released a statement saying a police officer was using radar about 1:40 a.m. when Phelps’ white 2014 Land Rover came through at 84 mph in a 45-mph zone.
“Mr. Phelps was identified as the driver by his driver’s license and appeared to be under the influence,” the statement said. “He was unable to perform satisfactorily a series of standard field sobriety tests.”
The statement said Phelps was cooperative throughout the process. Phelps was arrested and taken to a transportation authority station; he was later released.
After the first DUI charge in 2004, Phelps received 18 months’ probation and a $250 fine. He also was required to deliver a presentation on alcohol awareness to students at three high schools.
At the time, Phelps told the judge in a packed courtroom: “I recognize the seriousness of this mistake. I’ve learned from this mistake and will continue learning from this mistake for the rest of my life.”
In 2009, a British tabloid published a photo of Phelps using a marijuana pipe in South Carolina a few months earlier. A sheriff said there wasn’t evidence to charge Phelps with a crime, but he agreed to the suspension by USA Swimming.
In the wake of the photo’s release, Phelps said he “used bad judgment and it’s a mistake I won’t make again.”
The latest arrest tarnishes Phelps’ comeback bid, which produced promising results this past summer even though he wasn’t nearly as dominating as he was at the height of his career.
A month ago, Phelps won three golds and two silvers in his return to international competition at the Pan Pacific Championships on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Phelps also has qualified for the world championships in Russia next year, the biggest meet leading up to Rio.