BALTIMORE (AP) — Michael Phelps says it's fair for USA Swimming to suspend him for three months, the latest fallout from a photo showing the Olympic great inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
Phelps was back at his regular pool in Baltimore on Friday, a day after his suspension.
"It's not my decision. It's theirs," Phelps said of USA Swimming's decision. "I have nothing to say, but if that's they want to do, that's their choice. It's something that USA Swimming came up with. It's fair. Obviously, for a mistake you should get punished."
The latest fallout has been much greater than in 2004, when an underage Phelps was arrested for drunken driving three months after the Athens Olympics. He pleaded guilty and apologized to his fans, saying he wouldn't make the same mistake again.
Phelps won a record eight gold medals in Beijing and returned to America as one of the world's most acclaimed athletes. He made headlines of a different kind, however, in the wake of the photo, published Sunday by News of the World, a British tabloid.
Phelps wasn't sure how the negative publicity might influence his decision to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.
"I'm taking it step by step, day by day. There's still a long way between now and then," he said. "But I'm back here, I'm training for who knows what yet. But I'm back in the water, doing the thing I love."
That's a welcome diversion from the attention he's getting outside the pool.
"From waking up to megaphones outside your house at 7:30 in the morning to still photographers out there every day for the last four days from 7:30 to when I left for a workout, I can just do what's normal for me," he said. "And right now that's me coming to the pool every day."
Phelps recently resumed serious training with the goal of qualifying for this summer's world championships in Rome. With the three-month suspension he won't be able to take on any rivals until early May, which would give him a little more than two months of competition before July's world championships in Rome.
The U.S. team for Rome will be chosen at the national championships July 7-11 in Indianapolis.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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