TAMPA - Olympic great Michael Phelps acknowledged "regrettable" behaviour and "bad judgment" after a photo in a British newspaper on Sunday showed him inhaling from a dagga pipe.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games did not dispute the authenticity of the exclusive picture published by the tabloid News of the World.
"I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment," Phelps said in the statement released by one of his agents.
"I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise ... it will not happen again."
News of the World said the picture was taken during a November house party while Phelps was visiting the University of South Carolina. During that trip, he attended one of the school's football games and received a big ovation when introduced to the crowd.
While the newspaper did not specifically allege that Phelps was smoking pot, it did say the pipe is generally used for that purpose and anonymously quoted a party goer who said the Olympic champion was "out of control from the moment he got there".
The party occurred nearly three months after the Olympics while Phelps was taking a long break, and his actions should have no impact on the medals he won in Beijing. He has never tested positive for banned substances. - Sapa-AP