ATHENS Feb 2 The International Olympic
Committee said an apology from record-breaking Olympic champion
Michael Phelps, who was photographed inhaling from a pipe used
for smoking marijuana, was proof enough of his sincerity.
Britain's News of the World newspaper ran a picture of
swimmer Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at last
year's Beijing Olympics, with the glass pipe, saying it was
taken at a student party at the University of South Carolina in
Columbia last November.
The newspaper did not say Phelps was smoking marijuana but
said the glass pipe the swimmer was photographed with was
generally used to smoke the drug.
"Michael Phelps is a great Olympic champion. He apologised
for his inappropriate behaviour," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle
Moreau said on Monday.
"We have no reason to doubt his sincerity and his commitment
to continue to act as a role model."
Phelps, who has won more Olympic gold medals than anyone
else after his eight in Beijing and has since signed several
endorsement deals worth millions of dollars, apologised saying
his behaviour was regrettable.
"I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and
demonstrated bad judgement," Phelps said in a statement, adding
it would not happen again.
U.S. officials said the news was disappointing but stressed
that smoking marijuana out of competition was not an anti-doping
matter at this point.
(Writing by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Miles Evans)