3 Feb 2009

IOC accepts Phelps apology

6:20 am on 3 February 2009

The International Olympic Committee says an apology from record-breaking Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, who was photographed inhaling from a pipe used for smoking marijuana, was proof enough of his sincerity.

Britain's News of the World newspaper ran a picture of swimmer Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at last year's Beijing Olympics, with the glass pipe, saying it was taken at a student party at the University of South Carolina in Columbia last November.

The newspaper did not say Phelps was smoking marijuana but said the glass pipe the swimmer was photographed with was generally used to smoke the drug.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau says Phelps apologised for his inappropriate behaviour, and they have no reason to doubt his sincerity and his commitment to continue to act as a role model.

Phelps, who has won more Olympic gold medals than anyone else after his eight in Beijing and has since signed several endorsement deals worth millions of dollars, apologised saying his behaviour was regrettable.

U.S. officials say the news is disappointing but stressed that smoking marijuana out of competition is not an anti-doping matter at this point.