“I see him as a kid trying to grow up in the most intense spotlight known to any athlete. He has apologized and what else can he do?” she told the AP by telephone. “The thing I hope is that people realize Michael is still a person and not just a swimming hero.”
Torres said she sent Phelps a text a few days ago to extend her support.
“He didn’t let the USA down at the games, so we shouldn’t let him down,” she said.
Torres doesn’t expect a three-month suspension in a non-Olympic year to have much affect on Phelps’ career. He intends to keep swimming through the 2012 London Games.
“Knowing Michael the way I do, I guarantee you it’s going to make him want to do well,” Torres said. “All this is going to do is light a fire under him.”
Amanda Beard compared Phelps’ ordeal to some of the disdain she faced after posing nude in Playboy magazine before the Beijing Games.
“If anyone knows public scrutiny, it’s me,” the four-time Olympian said in a text message. “When I posed for Playboy, so many officials looked down on me. Michael knows he isn’t a bad person. He made a mistake. People need to get over it. I want to cheer him on in London.”
Gold medalist Ryan Lochte, who was one of Phelps’ teammates and main rivals in Bejing, said: “It really is kind of harsh. It’s just a picture.”
And even a rival agent came to Phelps’ defense.
“Enough is enough,” said Evan Morgenstein, who represents a large number of Olympic swimmers. “The penalty is far greater than the crime. He has said he is sorry. Let’s move on to the real problems in this country.”