Despite Michael Phelps’ legendary Olympic status and accomplishments, the swimmer has also faced some tough times in his career. Phelps has already been suspended for six months by USA Swimming for violating the organization’s code of conduct.
Michael Phelps was at the peak of his career in 2012. After winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics, the American swimmer was on the verge of retirement from the sport. He once revealed that he started finding it physically harder to stay on top of the sport as he got older. However, Phelps scrapped the idea and decided to compete again in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Phelps hit a rough patch in his career in October 2014 when USA Swimming suspended the Olympic champion for six months. He was disciplined for violating the organization’s code of conduct as he was arrested for driving under the influence. Phelps was caught speeding while drunk. After the incident, he entered a six-week treatment program.
The swimmer’s suspension lasted from October 2014 to April 2015. As part of the action, Phelps was forced to forfeit his funding from USA Swimming for six months. He retired from the 2015 World Championship squad and did not compete in Kazan, Russia. The championship was a major event ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Following this, Michael Phelps publicly accepted the judgment and said he was “disappointed” in himself. The then 29-year-old treated the suspension as a break from sport. Phelps entered treatment and reportedly embraced sobriety during this time.
“I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment and I am extremely disappointed in myself. Swimming is an important part of my life, but right now I have to focus my attention on myself as a individual and do the necessary work. Learn from this experience and make better decisions in the future.”
Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time Michael Phelps had been charged with an impaired driving offence. The swimmer was also arrested for drunk driving in 2004, when he was 19 years old. He was sentenced to 18 months probation.
In 2009, Phelps was penalized again after photos surfaced of him with a marijuana pipe at a party. USA Swimming took strict action and suspended the Olympic swimmer for three months.
Michael Phelps’ Mental Health Issues
Michael Phelps made headlines when he opened up to the world about his mental health struggles. The athlete, in 2020, revealed that he has been suffering from depression for a long time. It opened to outside the lines about his mental health issues and said he experienced the darkest days of his life before the Rio Olympics.
He openly stated that he was contemplating suicide:
“I mean, for a while I thought this was going to be the end of my life. Literally. Just because it was like, you know, probably better off without me. People wouldn’t have to deal to the BS I give them or the shit I put them through.”
The athlete revealed he was “surrendering” and asked for help. Phelps spent 45 days in a behavioral rehabilitation center during that time. Over time, the Baltimore native managed to overcome his struggles and compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Phelps won five gold medals and one silver in the event, setting an example of healthy growth.