There are too many people who are dismissing the morality of a star athlete like Michael Phelps breaking the law by using drugs. Throughout the media there are people talking about how stupid he was to jeopardize his endorsements and public image, especially when he could have done what he was doing in a more discreet way. Yet, what is missing is moral judgement.
Phelps was wrong and should be punished.
Thankfully there is someone with power looking into this:
Phelps could face drug charges
***UPDATED February 3rd, 9:05AM*** Michael Phelps has so far emerged unscathed from the controversy created by the photo showing him smoking from a bong, with his sponsors still standing behind him. However, he still could face criminal charges if it's determined that he was smoking marijuana, which shouldn't be too difficult considering there's a photo and Phelps has already confessed:
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he will charge Michael Phelps with a crime if he determines the Olympics hero smoked marijuana in Richland County...
...Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $570 fine, plus court costs.
But Lott seems to be the only person talking about making a case against Phelps. Both the USC and Columbia Police Departments said they would not pursue charges.
***UPDATED February 1st, 1:30PM*** Michael Phelps has acknowledged that the photo showing him smoking marijuana from a bong is real. He released this statement:
I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. 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 my fans and the public it will not happen again.
EARLIER: Olympic Champion Michael Phelps, who vaulted to international stardom during the 2008 Summer Olympics by winning a record eight gold medals in swimming, has been caught in a very compromising position, according to a report by the British paper News of the World.
The paper has a photo of Phelps smoking from a bong, a water pipe normally used for smoking marijuana. (View the photo here.) The alleged photo was taken at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where Phelps was visiting a female student who he was secretly seeing. The paper's anonymous source relates that Phelps partied hard each night he was there, which is not out of keeping with other reports of the Olympian since his swimming triumphs.
News of the World also makes the very provocative claim that people representing Phelps tried to snuff out the story and offered the paper extraordinary incentives not to publish.
For all things Michael Phelps, check out HuffPost's Michael Phelps BigNews Page
We all make mistakes and want to afford people we like another chance once they've been found to have been doing wrong. But public figures in particular, and everyone in general need to promote strong values like following the law, accepting punishment and responsibility when you don't, being honest, etc. It doesn't mean that we are doing all we should, but that we should aspire to create a society like this.