Michael Phelps is feeling the pressure following a photo that showed him smoking from a marijuana bong, and all the stress has him questioning whether he should participate in the 2012 Olympics.
In an exclusive interview with the Baltimore Sun Wednesday, Phelps said he "clearly made a mistake" and that he's going to have to discuss his future with his family and his coach, Bob Bowman.
"Yeah, there are still goals that I have in the pool, 100 percent. But I'm not going to let anything stand in my way. If I decide to walk away, I'll decide to walk away on my own terms. If it's now, if it's four years, who knows. But it is something I need to think about and decide what I want to do," Phelps told the newspaper.
Bowman said he isn't expecting Phelps, 23, to retire until after the '12 London Games, but he understands that Phelps wants to weigh his long-term options.
Phelps previously was arrested in 2004 for driving under the influence.
So far, several of Phelps' sponsors — including Omega, Speedo and Visa — have expressed support and are considering the recent bad news to be a "nonissue."
Kellogg, however, will let the swimmer's contract expire at the end of the month, saying Phelps' "behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg."
Phelps also told the Sun he was disappointed he let his mother down.
"Seeing my mom reminded me of how it was the day after I got my DUI, and I swore to myself I'd never do that again," Phelps said. "This is just a stupid thing of mine that I did, and I have to live with it."
Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, told the newspaper he does not smoke marijuana regularly and he made a mistake by utilizing poor judgment.
Phelps says he is going to have to live with the fallout from a photo of him holding what appears to be a marijuana pipe.
“It’s something I am going to have to live with and something I’ll have to grow from,” Phelps told The Associated Press outside the pool where he trains. “I know with all of the mistakes I made, I learned from them and that is what I expect to do from this. By no means it is fun for me, by no means is it easy.”
It was the first time Phelps had publicly addressed the photo since issuing an apology Sunday after it surfaced in a British tabloid over the weekend.
Wearing a black sweat suit and shaking off the remaining drops of water in his hair after a workout at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center, Phelps said the most important thing for him is that he was back in the pool training.
“I’m back to my routine, the thing I love, the thing I care about most,” Phelps said. “To be able to get back in the water and get back to a normal schedule is what I am happy about most.”
Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, in November gained ownership of Meadowbrook and the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where the swimmer began training at age 7.
Phelps declined to address the possibility of criminal charges and reiterated his desire to put the furor behind him.
“You know, it happens,” he said. “When stupid things are (done), bad judgment is made and mistakes are made, it happens.”
Phelps apologized to his fans and sponsors after the tabloid News of the World published a picture that appeared to show the Olympic champion smoking marijuana during a November house party at the University of South Carolina.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.