BALTIMORE - Michael Phelps says it's fair for USA Swimmingto suspend him for three months, the latest fallout from a photoshowing the Olympic great inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
Phelps was back at his regular pool in Baltimore on Friday, aday after his suspension.
"It's not my decision. It's theirs," Phelps said of USASwimming's decision. "I have nothing to say, but if that's theywant to do, that's their choice. It's something that USA Swimmingcame up with. It's fair. Obviously, for a mistake you should getpunished."
The latest fallout has been much greater than in 2004, when anunderage Phelps was arrested for drunken driving three months afterthe 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 toAmerica as one of the world's most acclaimed athletes. He madeheadlines 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 influencehis decision to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.
"I'm taking it step by step, day by day. There's still a longway between now and then," he said. "But I'm back here, I'mtraining for who knows what yet. But I'm back in the water, doingthe thing I love."
That's a welcome diversion from the attention he's gettingoutside the pool.
"From waking up to megaphones outside your house at 7:30 in themorning to still photographers out there every day for the lastfour days from 7:30 to when I left for a workout, I can just dowhat's normal for me," he said. "And right now that's me comingto the pool every day."
Phelps recently resumed serious training with the goal ofqualifying for this summer's world championships in Rome. With thethree-month suspension he won't be able to take on any rivals untilearly May, which would give him a little more than two months ofcompetition before July's world championships in Rome.
The U.S. team for Rome will be chosen at the nationalchampionships July 7-11 in Indianapolis.