Coach: Phelps plans to race after suspension ends
Michael Phelps is back in training and plans to return to competition after his six-month suspension ends in March.
Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, told The Associated Press on Saturday that they haven’t decided what events will be entered when the 18-time Olympic gold medalist is eligible.
The suspension ends on March 6. That would set up Phelps for a possible return at the Mesa Grand Prix in Arizona on April 15-18 which, in an interesting twist, was his first meet after coming out of retirement this year.
“We’re looking at a lot of different options for competition,” Bowman told the AP in a phone interview. “We’re just taking it one day at a time. He’s back in training.”
Phelps was suspended by USA Swimming on Oct. 6 in the wake of his second drunk-driving arrest, one day after he entered a six-week inpatient program that he said would “provide the help I need to better understand myself.”
The 29-year-old swimmer completed the program but still must deal with the charges. A court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19 in his hometown of Baltimore. Legal experts have said it’s unlikely he would have to do any jail time, even though he was arrested on the same charges a decade ago.
Phelps was also banned from competing at the 2015 world championships in Russia, but is moving forward with plans to take part in the 2016 Olympics.
The coach said Phelps was in reasonably good shape, certainly much better than he was a year ago when he got back into serious training after his retirement.
Phelps made a strong return, winning three golds and two silvers at the Pan Pacific Championships in August. In fact, he was named the male athlete of the year by USA Swimming last month.