Phelps suspended, loses sponsor
The Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps, who was photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe, has lost a major sponsorship deal and has been suspended from competition for three months.
Kellogg, a U.S. food company, said Thursday that it would not renew its contract with Phelps when their deal expires at the end of February. It would not disclose the value of its contract.
Later Thursday, USA Swimming suspended Phelps for three months.
"Michael's most recent behaviour is not consistent with the image of Kellogg," Susanne Norwitz, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a statement.
USA Swimming publicly reprimanded Phelps, who won eight medals at the Beijing Games, temporarily withdrawing its financial support to him and barring him from competition through early May. Phelps receives a monthly stipend of $1,750 from the organization. The national and world championships will be held in the summer.
"We decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and hero," the organization said in a statement.
Phelps's agent, Drew Johnson, also released a statement, saying that Phelps accepted and understood the decisions. "He feels bad he let anyone down," the statement said. "He's also encouraged by the thousands of comments he's received from his fans and the support from his many sponsors. He intends to work hard to regain everyone's trust."
Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said that USOC officials were willing to work with Phelps to ensure that he does not repeat his misstep.
Kellogg, which has featured Phelps on its Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes cereal boxes, is the first company to drop Phelps after a British tabloid last weekend published a photograph of him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
Phelps, 23, admitted that the photo, taken at a student party, was authentic. He subsequently apologized, calling his behaviour "inappropriate."
Several of his sponsors - including Speedo and Omega - have accepted his apology. Others, including Visa and Subway, have not taken a position.
Phelps's actions have already put a dent into his sponsorship money, which some marketing experts say could reach $100 million in his lifetime.