A few days ago, 8-time gold medal winner at the Beijing Olympics Michael Phelps was exposed by News of the World as an occasional marijuana user, when a photo of him smoking pot was made public. An official apology
on behalf of Phelps followed shortly, but the effects of “the bong incident” have not failed to appear: Kellog’s is the first sponsor to drop the swimmer for it, while his presence at the 2012 Olympics is uncertain at the moment.
Kellog’s was one of Phelps’ biggest sponsors, and also the first to refuse to renew the contract with him on account of the fact that his image has been ruined and he is no longer the model he was. “Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg’s.” a statement from the company briefly said about the reason behind the refusal to renew the sponsorship.
Moreover, also because of the News of the World photo, as well as due to a lengthy account that had it that he was no stranger to marijuana, USA Swimming too suspended Phelps from competing for three months.
“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. Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust.” the federation affirmed in a statement just released.
As for whether Michael will be allowed to participate in the 2012 Olympics, it seems that he will be the one to step back before actually being suspended. In a press statement released yesterday, the swimmer announced that he was thinking skipping the Olympics, while adding “If I decide to walk away, I’ll decide to walk away on my own terms.”
This has been seen as a move meant to anticipate the official decision that he is not to be a part of the 2012 Olympics but, so far, no official announcement regarding this has yet been made.