Michael Phelps backed by sponsors after marijuana photo

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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MANCHESTER, England Two of Michael Phelps leading sponsors expressed support for the Olympic great Monday, a day after he apologized for being photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

Luxury Swiss watchmaker Omega termed Phelps actions a private matter and non-issue. Swim wear manufacturer Speedo called the 23-year-old American a valued member of the Speedo team.

Phelps acknowledged regrettable behaviour and bad judgment after the photo appeared Sunday in the tabloid News of the World.

Speedo gave Phelps a US$1-million bonus for his record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Phelps joined Speedo in 2001, a year after making his Olympic debut in Sydney. He dominated the Beijing Games in the companys high-tech LZR Racer suit.

In light of Michael Phelps statement yesterday, Speedo would like to make it clear that it does not condone such behaviour and we know that Michael truly regrets his actions, Speedo, which is based in Nottingham, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Michael Phelps is a valued member of the Speedo team and a great champion. We will do all that we can to support him and his family.

Omega said it was strongly committed to its relationship with Phelps, calling his Beijing accomplishments among the defining sporting achievements in the history of sport.

The current story in the press involves Michael Phelps private life and is, as far as Omega is concerned, a non-issue, the company said.

The News of the World said the picture was taken during a November house party while Phelps was visiting the University of South Carolina. Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, an athlete is subject to sanctions only for a positive test during competition periods.

Michael Phelps is a great Olympic champion, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement to the AP. He apologized for his inappropriate behaviour. We have no reason to doubt his sincerity and his commitment to continue to act as a role model.



Organizations: Speedo, News of the World, Beijing Olympics Beijing Games The Associated Press University of South Carolina World Anti-Doping Agency International Olympic Committee

Geographic location: MANCHESTER, England, US Sydney Nottingham Beijing

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