Feature

Michael Phelps: Paying for pot

A swimming suspension and a lost endorsement—fair punishment for Phelps' marijuana-smoking photo?

What happened
USA Swimming suspended Michael Phelps over a photo published in a British tabloid that appears to show the Olympic champion smoking marijuana. (Baltimore Sun) One sponsor, Kellogg, has said it would not renew Phelps' advertising contract because of the scandal. (Straits Times)

What the commentators said
The one-two punch of sanctions and a lost endorsement was a "public slap" for Phelps, said Tracy Connor in the New York Daily News. This is the "most dramatic and costly fallout from the scandal" yet. Visa, Speedo, and other sponsors are standing by him, but that could change, and the photo still could lead to criminal charges.

And it should, said Richard Laermer in USA Today. "If sports celebrities can't take their statuses seriously, then they should be treated like any offender." The last thing Americans struggling to make ends meet need to see is a young multimillionaire like Phelps willing to throw it all away for one toke.

The scolds are having a field day at Phelps' expense, said Colby Cosh in Canada's National Post. But the real importance of an image of a record-smashing Olympian "hoovering dope smoke out of a bong" is that it deals a black eye to the American drug war. Still think marijuana takes away your edge and ambition? How many gold medals do you have?

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