Sheriff: Phelps won't be charged

Monday, Feb. 16, 2009 4:02 PM
Last updated 4:08 PM
  • Follow Latest News

COLUMBIA – A South Carolina sheriff said Monday he was not going to charge swimmer Michael Phelps after a photo of the 14-time gold medalist showed him smoking from a marijuana pipe.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he couldn’t ignore the photo but defended his investigation.

“Michael Phelps is truly an American hero ... but even with his star status, he is still obligated to obey the laws of our state,” Lott said.

The photo showed Phelps smoking from a marijuana pipe at a party in November when he visited the University of South Carolina.

Phelps has called his judgment bad and said he would learn from his mistake.

USA Swimming suspended Phelps for three months in the wake of the photo, and Kellogg Co. said it would not renew its endorsement deal with him.

The photo surfaced in a British newspaper, News of the World, on Feb. 1. The swimmer, who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, did not dispute its authenticity.

News of the World said the picture was taken during a party while Phelps was visiting the university. During that trip, he attended a football games and received a big ovation when introduced to the crowd.

The party occurred nearly three months after the Olympics, and Phelps' actions should have no impact on the eight golds he won at Beijing. He has never tested positive for banned substances.

This isn’t the first embarrassing episode for Phelps after an Olympic triumph. In 2004, a few months removed from winning six gold and two bronze medals in Athens, the swimmer was arrested on a drunken driving charge at age 19. He pleaded guilty and apologized for the mistake.

Comments (4) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
ghsfrshmn 02/16/09 - 04:06 pm
Thank God. Columbia has

Thank God. Columbia has bigger problems.

HYPOCRITES 08 02/16/09 - 04:16 pm
Wno cares?

Wno cares?

CoastalDawg 02/16/09 - 10:30 pm
So what about the people who

So what about the people who have already been arrested without apparent proof that marijuana smoking even really occurred? The fact that Michael Phelps had a pipe to his lips, bad judgment at the very least, isn't proof that he was actually smoking marijuana. This whole thing has smacked of the same thing that drove the former district attorney in the Duke case - trying to make a name for himself. If the university police, and the city police in whose jurisdiction is said to have occurred were not interested in spending time and money in trying to build an impossible case, why was the sheriff so interested? I'm not excusing Michael or anyone else who broke the law, but spending all the resources to track down what is probably an unwinnable case is a bit ridiculous. Like the other poster though, who really cares?

As It Is
As It Is 02/17/09 - 01:57 am
Costal Dawg, the moment that

Costal Dawg, the moment that Phelps admitted what he had done, he admitted to breaking the law and therefore an investigation was warranted. Although I agree with some of your speculations regarding the Sheriff, they are just that, speculations. Many people do actually care that role models to our youth are smoking dope and using drugs, especially when they end up in photos for all to view. Combine this with a DUI at age 19 and you must admit it is past time for him to grow up and follow the laws of the land as well as using common sence. The "who cares" attitude is exactly why America is begining to fall into a moral, educational and work ethic decay.

Back to Top
Top headlines

Stormwater fee to fund Columbia County repairs

Columbia County is set to invest an additional $600,000 in its aging stormwater system next year, with the hope that more money and manpower will result in half as many repair orders and fewer ...
Search Augusta jobs