Phelps sets meet in May

The Baltimore Sun

Michael Phelps has decided not to waste any time returning to competition once his three-month suspension ends.

The 14-time Olympic gold medalist has committed to compete in the Charlotte (N.C.)UltraSwim on May 14-17, which is the first meet he is eligible to participate.

Phelps, 23, was suspended by USA Swimming this month after a British tabloid published a photo of him inhaling from a marijuana pipe. Phelps apologized for showing "bad judgment" and called his suspension "fair." Nearly all the companies that employ Phelps as a spokesman stood by him, but Kellogg Co., announced that it would not attempt to renew its deal with Phelps when it expires at the end of this month.

Living in Baltimore since he won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, Phelps has been training at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center in Mount Washington, where he is a co-owner of Aquatic Ventures LLC with coach Bob Bowman.

Phelps recently increased the intensity of his workouts, shifting to a schedule of two practices a day.

"Michael is focused on practicing and regaining the mental and physical momentum that he had achieved going into the Beijing Olympics," Bowman, said in a statement. "He is committed to a very demanding and rigorous training schedule as he prepares for upcoming meets and the FINA world championships."

Phelps last competed at the Charlotte UltraSwim in 2006. Recently, Bowman said it's likely Phelps will also compete at the Santa Clara (Calif.) Invitational Grand Prix starting June 11, which is the final tuneup before the U.S. nationals, beginning July 7 in Indianapolis.

U.S. nationals are the qualifying meet for the FINA world championships in Rome, Italy, which begin July 26.

NOTE: : The South Carolina sheriff who investigated Phelps after he was photographed smoking from a marijuana pipe says he's ready for "pot shots" from pundits and the media.

With that, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott donned a bulletproof vest, several medals and a blond wig Monday in a Rotary Club speech that combined good humor with a sober warning about illegal drugs.

Lott had been widely criticized for pursuing a criminal case against Phelps. Last week, the sheriff announced there was not enough evidence to charge Phelps, who acknowledged using "bad judgment" but never said he smoked marijuana.

"It doesn't matter if it's Michael Phelps or who it is. If you break the law, you've got to be held to the same standard," Lott said Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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