RALEIGH, North Carolina Feb 3 Record-breaking
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps could face criminal charges
following the publication of a photograph purportedly showing
him smoking marijuana, The State newspaper of Columbia, South
Carolina reported on Tuesday.
A South Carolina law enforcement official said he would
charge Phelps if he could prove the U.S. Olympian smoked
marijuana in his county.
"This case is no different than any other case," Richland
County Sheriff Leon Lott told The State.
Lott's comments come after a British newspaper published a
photograph purportedly showing Phelps smoking marijuana at a
party being held by students at the University of South
Carolina in Columbia in November.
Columbia, the South Carolina state capital, is located in
"This one might be a lot easier since we have photographs
of someone using drugs and a partial confession. It's a
relatively easy case once we can determine where the crime
Phelps apologised on Sunday after publication of the
photograph by the News of the World, calling his behaviour
Both the University of South Carolina and Columbia police
departments have said they would not pursue charges against
Phelps, The State said.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it accepted
his apology and U.S. officials said the news was disappointing
but stressed that smoking marijuana out of competition was not
an anti-doping matter.
Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanour in South
Carolina, punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $570 fine,
plus court costs, The State reported.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Peter Rutherford)