USA Swimming Hands Out 6-Month Suspension to Phelps; Two Sides Agree on Withdrawal From Worlds

A week after four-time Olympian Michael Phelps was arrested for DUI, USA Swimming has announced their punishment.

Citing a violation of Section 304.3.19 of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct, Phelps will be suspended from USA Swimming sanctioned competition for 6 months, he will withdrawal from the 2015 World Championships team, and forfeit the USA Swimming monthly stipend for 6-months.

Update: USA Swimming has clarified that Phelps’ withdrawal from the World Championships was something that “each (agreed)” to, and that he was not forcibly removed, per se.

He will be allowed to train with his club (NBAC at present), but won’t be allowed to compete through April 6th, 2015. If he comes back on that date, the first Grand Prix that he would be eligible for would be the April stop in Mesa. Coincidentally, that’s the meet at which he made his return to swimming last year.

Theoretically, Phelps could compete at a meet that was not USA Swimming sanctioned earlier. If his group elects to go that route, it would have to be taken on a case-by-case basis, as the rules on sanctions are complicated.

Phelps, even just 6 months into his comeback, had already returned to medal-contender status in at least the 100 fly, and would be in the conversation in the 200 IM as well.

“Membership in USA Swimming, and particularly at the National Team level, includes a clear obligation to adhere to our Code of Conduct. Should an infraction occur, it is our responsibility to take appropriate action based on the individual case. Michael’s conduct was serious and required significant consequences,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said. “Michael has publicly acknowledged the impact of his decisions, his accountability especially due to his stature in the sport and the steps necessary for self-improvement. We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”

The rule that Phelps has been suspended under is the broad, catch-all rule that gives them wide disciplinary powers:

304.3.19 Any other material and intentional act, conduct or omission not provided for above, which is detrimental to the image or reputation of USA Swimming, a LSC or the sport of swimming.

Phelps has a mid-November date set for his first legal proceedings on 5 counts in Maryland, where his BAC was reportedly .14, almost twice the legal limit, and he was clocked going 84 in a 45MPH speed zone.

Based on selection criteria, Phelps earned spots in the 100 free, 100 fly, and 200 IM individually for Kazan. Though official replacements were not announced, the next eligible swimmers in those races are Ryan Lochte in the 100 free, Tim Phillips in the 100 fly, and Tyler Clary in the 200 IM.

See the full press release from USA Swimming below:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Swimming announced today that, due to a violation of the organization’s Code of Conduct, Michael Phelps(Baltimore, Md.) will be suspended from USA Swimming-sanctioned competition for six months, withdraw from the 2015 FINA World Championships Team and forfeit his funding from the NGB for six months.

Phelps’ discipline is set forth under Section 304.3.19 of the 2014 Rule Book, which states “Any other material and intentional act, conduct or omission not provided for above, which is detrimental to the image or reputation of USA Swimming, a LSC or the sport of swimming.”

As a result, USA Swimming has taken the following actions:

  • Six-Month Suspension from Competition. Phelps will be permitted to train with his member club, but shall be ineligible to participate in USA Swimming-sanctioned competitions through March 6, 2015.
  • Withdrawal from the 2015 World Championship Team. Phelps and USA Swimming each agree that Phelps will not represent the United States at the 2015 FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, from August 2-9.
  • Forfeiture of USA Swimming’s Monthly Stipend. The monthly payments from USA Swimming will be halted during the six-month suspension period.

“Membership in USA Swimming, and particularly at the National Team level, includes a clear obligation to adhere to our Code of Conduct. Should an infraction occur, it is our responsibility to take appropriate action based on the individual case. Michael’s conduct was serious and required significant consequences,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said. “Michael has publicly acknowledged the impact of his decisions, his accountability especially due to his stature in the sport and the steps necessary for self-improvement. We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”

The measures were approved by the USA Swimming Executive Committee and take effect immediately.

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JP
7 years ago

Not to make light of the situation, but would this move anybody into his spots in events at Worlds? Like, Phillips in the 100 fly, or Clary into the 200 IM?

TheTroubleWithX
Reply to  JP
7 years ago

Just looking real quick at the roster SwimSwam worked up here: http://swimswam.com/2015-u-s-worlds-team-qualifiers-non-olympic-swimmers-qualify-pan-pacs/, it looks like….

~ Ryan Lochte into individual 100 free spot
~ Matt Grevers into 4×100 free relay spot
~ Tyler Clary into 200 IM spot
~ Tim Phillips into 100 fly spot

TheTroubleWithX
Reply to  TheTroubleWithX
7 years ago

Actually, looking at the selection procedures a little more closely, I happened upon this…

“(B) Filling Vacant Positions in 100m or 200m Freestyle with Team Vacancy.
If a vacancy occurs in the 100m or 200m Freestyle individual Event, the next highest Available Swimmer already on the Team will compete in the individual Event, provided that he/she has satisfied the FINA “A” Time Standard (and the highest-finishing Available Swimmer has also met the FINA “A” standard) as well as any other applicable requirements set forth in these Selection Procedures, and no additional swimmer will be added to the Team. If the vacancy occurs due to the withdrawal of a relay-only swimmer, then a replacement will be selected according to the… Read more »

no1swimfreak
7 years ago

Can someone explain to me why this is a different sanction than his two previous infractions?

K Mac Swim
Reply to  Braden Keith
7 years ago

It might make an interesting story to see how many others USA Swimming has banned like this, or if there is any such punishment given to them or if it’s left up to the athlete vs coaching staff vs. authorities. I understand why they would for phelps but do they go down the totem pole?

sam
Reply to  K Mac Swim
7 years ago

Go down the totem pole – of course not – everything USA Swimming does is discriminatory!!!

SPRINTSWIM
7 years ago

USA Swimming has no business pulling him from worlds or suspending him. The US judicial system should be punishing Phelps… USA Swimming has gone over-board with being politically correct.

Bob
Reply to  SPRINTSWIM
7 years ago

You’re an idiot.

Justin Thompson
Reply to  Bob
7 years ago

Judging by your response I’m not sure you can’t say the same about yourself. Very thoughtful and articulate.

Lando
Reply to  SPRINTSWIM
7 years ago

completely agree. Granted he did sign the code of conduct, but swimming is phelps livelihood. He can’t swim, sponsors drop, etc. it’s complete crap that they banned him from swim. You don’t fire someone from work because they get a speeding ticket..

Correction
Reply to  Lando
7 years ago

Actually you CAN fire someone for that. For example, last month a man who gave a TV interview about a brawl the Palin family instigated at a party was fired less than one hour after it aired.

C'mon man
Reply to  Lando
7 years ago

No, but people get fired for DUIs… His livelihood? The man’s worth $40 million.

beachmouse
Reply to  C'mon man
7 years ago

Yeah. He’s probably spent more on a weekend of gambling out of his petty cash fund than what a rank and file national team member gets in stipend for a whole year.

Cate
Reply to  Lando
7 years ago

This was more than a speeding ticket. It was a DUI with 4 other counts in the charges. Plus it’s not the first one. I don’t know what kind of a job you have, but in many occupations you are responsible for what you do outside your workplace, and yes you can be suspended or fired.

I am not sure what you mean by his livelihood. He is worth 40 million bucks. He isn’t going to be out on the street. He has responsibilities to his fans, his sport and his sponsors. His image is what his sponsors pay him for. It is part of his job. He is the face of swimming and he willingly took that on.… Read more »

ME
Reply to  SPRINTSWIM
7 years ago

I suppose the sport of swimming has a right to establish a certain image for themselves.

Max
Reply to  SPRINTSWIM
7 years ago

I completely agree.

Annon
Reply to  SPRINTSWIM
7 years ago

If the NFL and other major sports can suspend players for criminal actions so can USA Swimming. Phelps is the face of USA Swimming and if they let him get away with it they would look terrible.

Rafael
7 years ago

That would also open a relay spot on the team.. and Phelps will still have to face the court.. which could produce a harsher result than the US swimming gave. Based on the judgement he would need to be at home at all times and would not be able to participate at any championship even being eligible..

Justin Thompson
Reply to  Rafael
7 years ago

The courts punishment will not be nearly as severe or unprecedented because they don’t ratchet up the punishment based on ones fame and what the media thinks.

lane 0
7 years ago

Man.. Now King Chad has nobody to race, I hope Shields or Phillips can step up.
I’m happy for Phillips though. He come so close so many times, but now’s his chance to shine.
Clary get’s another event to make it 4 events. Lochte got the 100 free.

Reply to  lane 0
7 years ago

I believe lochte get the 100 fly as well. He was the 3rd fasted time overall this year behind Phelps and Shields

TheTroubleWithX
Reply to  Michael Scott Schwartz
7 years ago

I’m pretty sure Tim Phillips had a faster finals time at Nationals than Lochte did at Pan Pacs, so Phillips should get the spot.

Justin Thompson
Reply to  lane 0
7 years ago

Prince Chad should be a lock for the 100m Fly, but I don’t know what else he would be? There’s some rising competition in the 200m Fly and I don’t see him winning gold in anything else?

lane 0
Reply to  Justin Thompson
7 years ago

Yeah, he should win the 100 fly and he’s probably the favorite in the 200. He should contend for medals in the 200 IM, especially with no Phelps. Chad is a racer, and will swim fastest against the fastest, same for Phelps.

calswimfan
7 years ago

Probably a lot of attention on big institutions with the recent NFL scandals. USA Swimming doesn’t want to be NFL and that’s a good thing.

7 years ago

I assume that the State of Maryland will penalize Phelps through a combination of license removal, fine, PSAa, and some community service.

I also assume that (some of) his sponsors will enact “good citizenship” clauses in their contracts such that Phelps will be punished by a cutback in endorsement monies received. (This will also impact his coach — I’m assuming that Bowman receives a portion of those deals; correct me if I’m wrong.)

A six-month competition ban by US Swimming seems about right. I’m surprised by his removal from the WC team inasmuch as Phelps qualified for the team before the drunk-driving arrest, and WCs take place three months after his suspension is over. I wonder if Phelps can appeal… Read more »

TheTroubleWithX
Reply to  Roger von Oech
7 years ago

Pretty much what I was thinking, as well.

Reply to  Roger von Oech
7 years ago

Here’s an interesting hypothetical.

If US Swimming had held the 2015 World Championship team trials five weeks before the event (like they do with Olympic trials), that is, at the end of June 2015, instead of a year earlier (August 2014), then Phelps’ 6-month suspension would’ve been over by then, and he would’ve been free to attempt to make the WC team. Thoughts? Or moot conjecture?

Cate
Reply to  Roger von Oech
7 years ago

They didn’t remove Phelps from the WC team. He volunteered not to swim it in conversations with US Swimming. I think under Maryland law once a DUI is more than 5 years old it can’t be used in court to increase your sentence (enhancements). Not sure though. I was surprised he was not charged with reckless endangerment since he was more than 20 mph over the speed limit. Maybe because no one was in the car and there was no accident. Like you, I am guessing, fine, community service and 120 days license suspension. I’m betting his sponsors stick with him. Most are not family oriented and there is time before the Olympics for this to fade. I hope he… Read more »

Reply to  Cate
7 years ago

Thanks, Cate. Yeah, it seems that both sides agreed to that. That wasn’t entirely clear (to me) in the initial press release.

I haven’t seen anyone mention this, but if Phelps wants to continue to swim in 2015, there are lot of good meets (Santa Clara, Janet Evans Invite) to swim in topped off by 2015 Summer Nationals. I’m sure that NBC Sports would promote these in a big way. One benefit of that meet is that it’s not 10 time zones away (from Calif.). [I was one of those who didn’t get to see much live swimming from Pan Pacs because of the time difference.]

Jim C
Reply to  Cate
7 years ago

There are also the Pan Am Games.

I would expect a much longer license suspension. The obvious punishment for a DUI would be to take the driver’s license away for life. Why would you ever let someone with a DUI drive again? The reason we go easy is that many people depend for their livelihood on being able to drive. Phelps is so rich he can afford a driver, so there is no hardship reason here for going easy.

wonkabar23
7 years ago

Has any other National Teamer gotten in trouble with the courts? If so did they receive any punishment. I wonder if this suspension is coming only because he is Michael Phelps and in the spotlight. If, for example someone like David Plummer had done this would he still be suspended.

beachmouse
Reply to  wonkabar23
7 years ago

Closest I can think of is an athlete (I want to say maybe Matt Grevers) who was at the World University Games and accused of damaging his dorm room while roaring drunk. Originally he was suspended for like a year or something but the suspension was lifted when he successfully argued that he was sober when the improperly installed sliding door locked him out on the balcony and it got damaged when he tried to claw his way back in.

GreenGoggles
Reply to  beachmouse
7 years ago

Doesn’t sound like Grevers

Britt
Reply to  beachmouse
7 years ago

When exactly did that happen?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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