Swimming legend Michael Phelps gets suspended sentence in drink-driving case

This article is more than 12 months old

Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps was given a one-year suspended sentence and 18 months probation on Friday after pleading guilty to drink driving and speeding.

Phelps – the most decorated Olympian of all time – was also ordered by Maryland district court judge Nathan Braverman to continue receiving treatment for alcoholism after the September incident.

While on probation, he cannot touch alcohol before driving – but he can leave the United States to train and compete, so long as he keeps up his treatment program.

Wearing a dark suit and glasses, the tall, lanky 29-year-old Phelps recalled how he checked himself into intensive rehab immediately after his Sept 30 arrest.

“During the 45-day program, I was able to find out a lot about myself that I never knew before.”  - Michael Phelps, who added that he now had the “tools” to go forward.

“I’m looking at a much better future than I have had in the past,” he told Braverman, as his mother, two sisters and Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis looked on.

Phelps is now attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as regular post-rehab sessions at a clinic in suburban Baltimore, his lawyer Steven Allen said.

Braverman – for whom Phelps was a celebrity exception to a morning otherwise filled with dozens of routine traffic offences – hoped Phelps had turned a corner.

“I’m optimistic we won’t have this conversation again,” he said, recalling how Phelps got probation for a similar drunk-driving offence a decade ago.

Phelps took to his Twitter account to say that the past three months have been the hardest in his life and his biggest learning experience. 

He acknowledged that what he did was wrong.

He also thanked his supporters. 

Police say Phelps’ white Land Rover was doing 84 miles (135kmh) in a 45 mph zone in Baltimore’s Fort McHenry Tunnel early on the morning of Sept 30, as he was driving from the city’s Horseshoe casino.

He was suspended from competition for six months – although Allen mentioned in court that Phelps in is training for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 18 golds out of 22 total medals.- AFP

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