FanDuel - WFBC

February 01, 2009

Tabloid Catches Michael Phelps Smoking a Bong: Fourteen-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps was photographed taking a bong hit at a college party in South Carolina, the British tabloid News of the World reported Sunday. "He looked just as natural with a bong in his hands as he does swimming in the pool," an unnamed source told the paper. "He was the gold medal winner of bong hits." A Phelps marketing rep, Clifford Bloxham, offered Phelps to the tabloid as a columnist for three years if it killed the photo. Instead, it quoted him: "It's seeing if something potentially very negative for Michael could turn into something very positive for the News of the World."

posted by rcade to olympics at 11:11 AM - 54 comments

I guess this needs to be linked to, just as a reminder.

posted by NoMich at 11:28 AM on February 01

Weed, bongs, shots, beers, DUIs, dating strippers.....get him a gun and he could start hangin' with Pacman's posse!

posted by dyams at 11:45 AM on February 01

All the swimmers I knew in high school were stoners. Had the strongest lungs too so they always finished their hit in one pull.

Just don't bogart it, Michael. And pass to the left.

posted by scully at 11:51 AM on February 01

Couple of things:

-There is no way that is 100% Michael Phelps.
-The story originally was printed in the beginning of Jan '09, if there were any substance to it, by now it would have been in every major US publication a dozen times over.
-Whenever all these sources are unnamed or people refuse to comment, I personally have a whole lot of trouble believing any of it.

"He was the gold medal winner of bong hits."

That goes without saying. Let's say it is him - his lung capacity is probably better than most. So saying "he's a pro" at bong hits, doesn't mean he has done it before. His ability, I'm sure, would beat Spicoli's any day.

"It's seeing if something potentially very negative for Michael could turn into something very positive for the News of the World."

That was my first impression. The News of the World is simply running a junk story with a highly searched name in a headline. Good try.

posted by BoKnows at 11:58 AM on February 01

Am I the idiot here for giving any possible credit at all? Is this like The Onion or something?

posted by BoKnows at 11:59 AM on February 01

Looks like he's a lefty

posted by scully at 11:59 AM on February 01

Am I the idiot here for giving any possible credit at all? Is this like The Onion or something?

You could be right, Bo, this could be 100% BS. I'm willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt when our only source for a story is a tabloid. However, if this does turn out to be true, I just wanted to point out that winners do indeed take a pull off of a bong every once in a while and there is no shame in that.

posted by NoMich at 12:13 PM on February 01

I'd love to go hit for hit with Phelps. After 15 yrs as a lifeguard, it has been several years since I have been in the water but I have kept my "lung capacity" expanded for even longer than he has been a swimmer.

I really don't see a story here. Like Mr.Mich stated above, I see no shame in This.

posted by Folkways at 12:21 PM on February 01

The story originally was printed in the beginning of Jan '09 ...

The 01/02/09 date at the top of the article is Feb. 1, 2009. British practice is to print dates in DD/MM/YY order. This story is all over the mainstream media today.

Also, Phelps really is a client of Clifford Bloxham's Octagon firm, according to its web site. The paper quotes Bloxham by name trying to negotiate a deal not to run the photo. Given British libel law, I think it's highly unlikely it would run a fake quote in his name.

posted by rcade at 12:22 PM on February 01

"Am I the idiot here for giving any possible credit at all? Is this like The Onion or something?"

Often referred to as the Screws of the World, the NotW has some way to go to reach the same credibility level as the Onion.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:45 PM on February 01

Not that this bit of amateur detective work proves much, but here is a photo of Phelps that has him wearing a watch that is very similar to the one in bong photo.

posted by dviking at 12:48 PM on February 01

The 01/02/09 date at the top of the article is Feb. 1, 2009.

Touche. (with that little squiggly thing on the e.)

posted by BoKnows at 12:54 PM on February 01

Before you edited the comment, I thought your response "touch" was some kind of new slang based on the Linux command of the same name.

I need to get out more (a problem I do not share, apparently, with Michael Phelps).

posted by rcade at 01:00 PM on February 01

Ha. I love Charlie Brown's friend with the blanket. That would have been funny.

posted by BoKnows at 01:01 PM on February 01

Are we completely sure that's him? I haven't followed him as much as most but 1/3 of a person's face isn't a lot to go by.

posted by dfleming at 01:05 PM on February 01

I think the only sure thing that can be taken from that photo is that that looks like a very nice bong.

posted by BoKnows at 01:16 PM on February 01

Phelps has admitted it was him.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:20 PM on February 01

Well, that solves that.

posted by BoKnows at 01:21 PM on February 01

I'm going to file that one under "meh." The dude's what, like 20 years old? I find it hilarious that anyone would be all that surprised to see him hitting a bong. What's the headline? "Drunk 20 year old forgets to hide before acting like a 20 year old"

No soapbox moment here, but if what he was doing wasn't still illegal under a bizarre prohibition, it wouldn't be a big deal. And it's much better than seeing him smoking a cigarette.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:46 PM on February 01

OMG! A 23 year old smoking pot? That's unheard of!

Seriously though, I am old and don't smoke the stuff myself, but I think it is rediculous to make a big stink about a 23 year old taking a bong hit. He will likely out grow it like most people do, and it is high time (sorry for that pun) that we get off our collective high horses (sorry again) with regards to marijuana.

posted by Mtigger at 01:54 PM on February 01

This ought to be a non-story because pot ought to be legal. Since it isn't, though, I'm pretty amazed that Phelps was doing this at a party -- particularly one where he apparently didn't know the other people all that well.

But it is the first time I've ever seen Phelps exhibit signs of having a personality. The guy was the Pete Sampras of Olympic sport.

posted by rcade at 02:03 PM on February 01

Olympic swimmer likes sex, drugs, rock'n'roll = bear likes to shit in woods.

Funny how the same papers that printed fnar-fnar "Sex Olympics!!!" stories in August about what happens when competitors finish their events treat this as a revelation.

posted by etagloh at 02:26 PM on February 01

rcade has it right.

posted by spofomofo at 02:36 PM on February 01

The tabloid makes it sound like this would ruin his swimming career, but is marijuana a banned Olympic substance? It's categorized as a depressant, and certainly not a performance enhancer... except maybe in the bedroom.

posted by scully at 02:53 PM on February 01

Couple of things: (Update)

-There is no way that is 100% Michael Phelps. Unless, of course, MP himself confirms that it is 100% him.

-The story originally was printed in the beginning of Jan '09, if there were any substance to it, by now it would have been in every major US publication a dozen times over. See above.

-Whenever all these sources are unnamed or people refuse to comment, I personally have a whole lot of trouble believing any of it. Which may now lead me to a new way of thinking.

Shucks.

No wonder his daily calorie intake is so much.

posted by BoKnows at 02:56 PM on February 01

I could care less if the guys gets absolutely blinded by weed. Whether or not we all do it, or have done it, or whether it should be legal or not has nothing to do with the story. The fact is he's doing severe damage to his reputation and any marketability he continues do have. He has already made a lot of money, but the image of the guy doing this type of stuff, at a party full of strangers, won't particularly sit well with corporate America. If that doesn't matter to him, though, it sure as hell doesn't matter to me.

posted by dyams at 03:07 PM on February 01

The 2006 IAAF Doping Regulations state that "Cannabinoids (e.g. hashish, marijuana) are prohibited." As well, the out-of-competition regulations state: "For the avoidance of doubt, the above criteria shall be for guideline purposes only and the IAAF may at its sole discretion include any athlete in the Registered Testing Pool which it considers to be appropriate. The IAAF's determination of the composition of the Registered Testing Pool shall be final and shall not be subject to challenge by any athlete or other person. " So it sounds like the IAAF could test Phelps tomorrow and have him test positive for a banned substance.

posted by dfleming at 03:09 PM on February 01

So it sounds like the IAAF could test Phelps tomorrow and have him test positive for a banned substance.

Except that Phelps is not an athlete (in the customary, non-US definition); FINA is the world governing body here, and if the WADA list stipulated out-of-competition testing of swimmers for MJ, then I'd likely stand a chance in the 2012 Olympics. (Here's the FINA blotter: positive tests for cannabis earned a couple of water polo players a three-month ban.) Also, since the party was in November, Phelps has been back to the monotonous eat-sleep-swim now. Top-rank swimmers: deadly dull for most of the year, bonkers party-beasts when the gala is over.

posted by etagloh at 03:41 PM on February 01

No wonder his daily calorie intake is so much.

That was my first thought when I read the article!

posted by dviking at 04:49 PM on February 01

You'll notice that the offenses on the FINA list were for in-competition tests. I can't say specifically what out-of-competition rules Phelps might be subject to. However, in general out-of-competition testing only includes substances that are known to assist with out-of-competition training, e.g. steroids, hormones, etc. Cannabinoids would not be included, since their long-term use is not performance enhancing.

posted by Amateur at 04:52 PM on February 01

Cannabinoids would not be included, since their long-term use is not performance enhancing.

At least not until "Rock Band" is an Olympic event.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:43 PM on February 01

The fact is he's doing severe damage to his reputation and any marketability he continues do have.

Only if people give a damn, and likely they don't at this point. The Wheaties-box window has closed, the endorsements where he'd appear on the kind of crap food that people buy for their kids are done deals or over by now, so I don't see any reason why he should be worried about the inevitable self-righteous "think about the children" parental types.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:19 PM on February 01

Ω*Now that he has admitted that it was him, I'd like to have a heart to heart if he plans to continue smoking, I am the perfect example of the stuff killing a sports career.

(not that he smokes all the time or anything like that)

posted by Folkways at 06:46 PM on February 01

Why do i get the feeling that if you were to replace MP in this story, with lets say AI or Carmello Anthony ( or any NFL player for that matter), there would be more goings on about "role models" and "how dare they" and "my kid will never own their jersey" etc etc. Is it because he doesn't have tattoos, or he has a baby face?

Marion Jones gave all her medals back after admitting to using banned substances. While I certainly understand pot is hardly a PED. If it's banned and he admits to using it during the time he won his medals, should he have to give them back?

posted by sportsblitz at 09:28 PM on February 01

Why do i get the feeling that if you were to replace MP in this story, with lets say AI or Carmello Anthony ( or any NFL player for that matter), there would be more goings on about "role models" and "how dare they" and "my kid will never own their jersey" etc etc. Is it because he doesn't have tattoos, or he has a baby face?

I think it's because as soon as the Olympics end every four years, nobody really gives a shit about a swimmer. Unless you're drowning.

posted by dyams at 09:39 PM on February 01

"I think it's because as soon as the Olympics end every four years, nobody really gives a shit about a swimmer. Unless you're drowning."

^ This.

If he's swimming butterfly in 2012 with the bong in his hand then we might be able to find some spare outrage.


posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:40 PM on February 01

It's been proven that the Speedo bongs provide less resistance in the water than other swimming/bong manufacturers. The problem is that a lot of other countries won't be able to afford the Speedo ones.

posted by BoKnows at 10:49 PM on February 01

Marion Jones gave all her medals back after admitting to using banned substances. While I certainly understand pot is hardly a PED. If it's banned and he admits to using it during the time he won his medals, should he have to give them back?

He didn't admit to using it during the time he won his medals. It was six weeks after the Olympics.

posted by dfleming at 11:04 PM on February 01

So it sounds like the IAAF could test Phelps tomorrow and have him test positive for a banned substance.

Well let's hope that the IAAF uses a more sophisticated method of marijuana testing than a urine analysis. My best friend back in high school passed a "wizz quiz" the day after smoking a huge blunt just by not eating and drinking a bunch of water the day of the test. Plus, who are we to judge MP anyway? MP doesn't stand approved before us.


posted by rototiller at 11:45 PM on February 01

Just to add: Phelps was subject to out-of-competition testing in March, May, June and July of 2008, to four more out-of-comp tests in 2007, and six in-comp tests during the 2007 World Championships. The data for the end of '08, including the Olympics, isn't yet on the FINA site, but you can be pretty confident that he pissed in a lot of cups.

posted by etagloh at 12:05 AM on February 02

My best friend back in high school passed a "wizz quiz" the day after smoking a huge blunt just by not eating and drinking a bunch of water the day of the test.

I can tell you from personal experience that those methods (water/not eating) will only work if the levels of THC are low. Meaning that he probably wasn't a habitual smoker. Most THC will remain in your system for up 30 days. If you are a habitual smoker - depending on the amount you smoke and the potency - it could be much longer. Now water will definitely dilute your system but after even a joint, once in a while, you need a lot of water. (Which may turn out to be a big plus for MP. I've never tried chlorine, hmmm)

I have tried a few different forms of "cheating" in the past, including super flush drinks, pills etc... The only sure thing for me was to use powdered synthetic pee that had to be mixed with water and brought to body temp levels. And of course, it had to be a non-supervised test.

posted by BoKnows at 12:35 AM on February 02

Wonder how his mom took this bit of news.

posted by Newbie Walker at 01:00 AM on February 02

Wonder how his mom took this bit of news

You sure it wasn't her bong he was toking on?

posted by BornIcon at 11:50 AM on February 02

Sounds like sponsors Omega and Speedo are supporting him. Omega is saying pretty bluntly that they don't give a damn what he does in his private life. Good for them.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:18 PM on February 02

At least not until "Rock Band" is an Olympic event.

That's just funny...

I don't have a problem with Phelpsy tokin' on the bong, but he was pretty stupid for letting a bunch of strangers watch him do it. I mean, he has a potential of making $100 mil off of endorsements and he almost blows it away for some purps at a frat party? Then again during the olympics someone ran a story about Phelps that made it sound like he was borderline "retarded". Maybe that's why his sponsors are backing him, because they knew he had a limited mental capacity before they signed a contract with him.

posted by docshredder at 06:48 PM on February 02

What would have happened if he hit this "alleged" bong in Amsterdam or some other country where pot is legal? Is the outrage over the fact that he smoked it or that he broke the law?

posted by HATER 187 at 02:59 AM on February 03

I think there's more uproar over actor Christian Bale's workplace tirade.

posted by Newbie Walker at 04:00 AM on February 03

What would have happened if he hit this "alleged" bong in Amsterdam or some other country where pot is legal?

I was wondering that too. He should test that issue by visiting Amsterdam and lighting up. Then he could give us more food for thought by having sex at one of Nevada's legal brothels.

posted by rcade at 08:46 AM on February 03

I think there's more uproar over actor Christian Bale's workplace tirade.

If Phelps shared his bong hit with Bale, maybe he wouldn't have had that tirade.

posted by cjets at 03:09 PM on February 03

Seems as though there may be charges coming Phelps' way.

posted by dviking at 01:05 AM on February 04

This is so comical..but pass that shit MP.

posted by BornIcon at 03:20 PM on February 05

Phelps has been suspended for three months.

He also lost his Kellogg endorsement deal today.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:19 PM on February 05

Earlier Thursday, cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. announced it wouldn't renew its sponsorship contract with Phelps, saying his behavior is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg."

As opposed to yogurt enemas.

posted by etagloh at 01:33 AM on February 06

Kellogg whiffed on this one. This was a possibility for marketing gold. Instead, I now know way too much about John Harvey Kellogg.

posted by 86 at 09:36 AM on February 07

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