(CNN) — Olympic hero Michael Phelps was suspended from competitive swimming for three months on Thursday — just hours after one of his sponsors announced it would not renew his contract after a photo surfaced of him smoking from a bong.
USA Swimming, the nation’s governing body for competitive swimming, said it was withdrawing financial support for Phelps and barring him from competition during the period of his “reprimand.”
“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,” they said in a statement.
“Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust,” the statement continued.
Earlier Thursday, Kellogg Co. said it will not renew Phelps’ advertising contract.
Doping in sport is a problem. Drug-use (in general) is a problem, but most kids have experimented with something somewhere along the line, myself included. Michael Phelps stupidly has a photo taken of him smoking from a bong, and is definitely experiencing some seriously negative fallout, including loss of income, and loss of competition.
Granted, the suspension from the US Swimming team is only for 3 months; which isn’t really bad in the grand scheme of things. If nothing else, it will hopefully give Phelps a much-needed rest and let him come back as hungry as ever.
Now … I wonder if Kellogg’s decision to drop Phelps is really related to said screw-up, or if they were going to drop him anyway (due to rough economic times; Kellogg had already decided not to renew sponsorship of the US Swimming Team), and are just using this as a convenient excuse.
After all, like most companies, Kellogg suffered a rather precipitous drop in share price this past fall, although as a food supplier, they weren’t affected nearly as hard as many other makers of consumer goods, and definitely not as hard as companies in the financial sector.
What bothers me most, is that Phelp’s is likely going to get labeled as a drug user, when in reality, he’s just a 23 year old kid. At least he’s still alive, unlike many cyclists and other athletes who have died because of their drug of choice … people like Marco Pantani, Lyle Alzedo, Tom Simpson, and very likely Florence Griffith-Joyner.