Mark Spitz has responded publicly for the first time to an article in Express Sports UK, who reported that Spitz claims that Michael Phelps didn’t actually win the gold medal in the men’s 100 fly at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In the interview, Spitz emphasized that Phelps is the “greatest Olympian of all time,” and sympathized with Phelps’ recent struggles with alcohol, but the headline-catching quote was one about the photo-finish in the 100 fly that left a cloud of uncertainty on the result of what was at the time the best rivalry in swimming.
“I was sent an email posted by Omega that said he had lost the race,” the paper quoted Spitz. “If they were the official time keeper why wasn’t that available moments after the race? I don’t believe he won the race but he’s still the greatest swimmer in the world, with or without that medal.”
Today, in an exclusive comment to SwimSwam, Spitz says that his quote was misconstrued.
“It is unfortunate that my quote was misconstrued regarding Omega, Michael Phelps and his race at the 2008 Olympics,” Spitz said via email. “I thought I was clear that I was forwarded some e mail links and social media posts floating around the internet pertaining to the race with Mike Cavic. The writer decided to take creative license and say I got this from Omega. Omega has never sent me any communication in any form regarding this race or any other race. Again, I re-iterate my comment that Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympic swimmer of all time!”
The 100 fly was one of 8 gold medals won by Phelps at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, breaking Mark Spitz’s single-games record of 7 at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.