Thursday, February 12, 2009


MICHAEL PHELPS is considering a boycott of the 2012 Olympics in London. If we are denied another opportunity to see the greatest Olympian of all time in competition, we only have ourselves – and the British tabloid press – to blame.

Just consider this. Alex Rodriguez admits taking performance- enhancing drugs for three years from the age of 26 to 28.

The consequence? Major League Baseball is powerless to punish him as testing was not officially introduced until 2004.

The owners of the New York Yankees are “not angry at all” with A-Rod and have no intention of reneging on his 10-year, $275 million contract. As far as we know, neither do his sponsors, who include Nike, Pepsi and Topps.

Michael Phelps trains tirelessly for four years leading up to Beijing Olympics, where he wins a record eight gold medals.

When he returns from China, Phelps unwinds by taking a puff of marijuana from a bong at a party and a photograph of the act is published on the front page of Britain’s leading Sunday newspaper, the News of the World.

The consequence? Phelps is suspended from all competition for three months by U.S.A swimming and is dropped by sponsor Kellogg’s because he is no longer “consistent with the image of Kellogg.”

Now we hear he is being pursued by the South Carolina police force, who are seeking to make a case against the swimmer.

Don’t get me wrong. If Tony the Tiger was caught with his snout in a bong, I’m sure he would receive a frosty reception from Kellogg’s too. But does the punishment really fit the crime?

Punishment surely doesn’t fit the crime

While A-Rod was seeking to gain an unfair advantage over his fellow professionals, one that has led to untold riches, amateur Phelps was using cannabis for recreational purposes. 

Let’s not forget either that, at 23, he’s ten years younger than A-Rod. How many of us can hold our hands up and say that we never experimented with “weed” at the same age? 

He still qualifies in the categories of young, stupid and na├»ve. At 33, A-Rod does not. He quiet clearly has neither the brain nor the shame to cope with fame. 

He also has a long way to go to prove himself as a true New York Yankee – a player who can produce his best form on the baseball field when it really matters.

It remains to be seen whether Phelps decides to try to add to his total of 14 gold medals in London in three years’ time.

He is sure to come under intense scrutiny from the British tabloids, always keen to find flaws in supposedly squeaky-clean sportsmen.

If he decides he wants to keep his private life just that, I, for one, will understand.

Yes, he used bad judgment. But in the court of public opinion, can we really put his “crime” in the same league as the baseball cheats?

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