Criminal Charges Against Michael Phelps?

Richland County Sheriff, Leon Lott, plans to charge Micheal Phelps with a misdemeanor of possession of marijuana


Criminal Charges Against Michael Phelps?

What would this mean for the Olympian swimmer?

-Stephanie Elliot

Micheal Phelps bongWhile Michael Phelps’ sponsors’ Speedo and Omega, the Luxury Swiss Watchmaker, have called his “regrettable” behavior with the bong a “nonissue” (is pot legal in Switzerland?), someone else is not so readily accepting Michael’s apology.

Richland County Sheriff, Leon Lott, plans to charge Phelps with a misdemeanor of possession of marijuana if it’s determined “the Olympics hero smoked marijuana in Richland County.”

Did Sheriff Lott not view the photo yet? Or maybe Phelps pulled a Bill Clinton and didn’t inhale? (Hey, it worked for the former president, didn’t it? Of course, there were no camera phones back then.)

When the story broke early this week, Phelps made this public statement:

“I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

So let’s look at the big picture. As a mother, if Phelps were my kid, I’d be pretty pissed off. He’s an American icon, a role model to children everywhere. I have neighbors whose kids want to grow up to be swimmers like Michael Phelps. Do they want to grow up and be stoners like Michael Phelps too?

But then there’s the non-mom in me who wonders if this was just a one-time incident where the poor guy who spends so much time of his life focusing and training on his sport just needed to decompress. I’m not ADVOCATING drug use, and surely there was a legal way for him to let off a little steam, but he’s not a machine – he’s human. And I’m not throwing that first stone.

(I’m really glad there are no photos of me back in college from the Sigma Chi frat house, because my career at Betty would be kaput if Lott were around!)

It seems as if Sheriff Lott wants to throw that first stone. My guess is he’s looking to be a big fish in a little pond and get some publicity for himself and his county. Has he not run across any other folks in Richland County in possession? And if so, why haven’t those stories gotten the attention this one has?

It’s another case of the Jessica-Simpson-Is-Fat-Now-So-Let’s-Beat-the-Story-to-Death scenario. People thrive on the lives of celebrities, so they’re going to run with it. Lott wants to gain some fame at the expense of Phelps, even though no one else cares.

Phelps has already confessed, he’s owned up to his mistake, he’s apologized and his sponsors are still supporting him. The University of South Carolina and the Columbia Police Departments do not plan to charge him with a crime, which, if Lott follows through with this, would mean Phelps could be fined $570 plus court costs or 30 days in jail.

Surely Phelps is not the only person on campus with a bong and marijuana? If caught IN THE ACT, what type of punishment occurs when someone is smoking an illegal substance on campus? Can you charge someone with a criminal act just from a picture?

If Lott proceeds with the charges, and if Phelps does go to jail, do you think he can request a holding facility with an Olympic indoor pool so he can at least practice for the 2012 Olympics? Because it’s already been made clear that Speedo and Omega want him there!

Stephanie Elliot is Betty’s Lit Lounge and Parenting editor, and she also answers your parenting questions at Just Another Manic Mommy. Visit her at or

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0 thoughts on “Criminal Charges Against Michael Phelps?

  1. I thought so too, JJ, but what if someone had a photo of a guy standing over a dead body holding a bloodied knife? Wouldn’t that person go to jail? Nothing is black or white! Guess this is what makes the world so fascinating! LOL!

  2. The above piece says that Sheriff Lott plans to charge Phelps IF it’s determined that he smoked marijuana in Richland County. IF.

    As to whether you can charge someone with a criminal act just from a picture, a picture is evidence, but do you not think that there were witnesses? What conduct do you think that Phelps apologized for?

    And as to Sheriff Lott wanting to “throw that first stone,” he’s a law enforcement officer. He would probably be accused of showing favoritism to a celebrity if he said nothing.

  3. Rosewood, good point … murder … pot smoker … hmmmm? And KS, also great point. The next guy that comes around can say, “Hey, you didn’t take Phelps to jail and he had a bong, why you taking me in?”

  4. The greatest athlete in the world, and we are worried about what he did at a private, adult party… what century is this?

    And we all know that at least half of his accusers are hypocrites.

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