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Water on Phelps' brain

USA Swimming is right-on. The governing body of the American swim team suspended Michael Phelps after damning photos surfaced. The…

By Rosemary Keevil-Fairburn , in Blogs Busted and Booked , on February 6, 2009 Tags: , , ,

USA Swimming is right-on. The governing body of the American swim team suspended Michael Phelps after damning photos surfaced. The U.S. Olympic gold medal star was smoking from a bong, which all the world seems to know is a marijuana pipe.

Reaction from his sponsors and the public have been mixed. And some international columnists have come on side and supported him as, “only human.”

An article in the Washington Post says we are “imposing monstrous expectations on our heroes.” Darn right. If they have the talent and determination to pursue a high profile athletic career and all the perks that go along with that, which are substantial, they better also have the character. It is not as if they are rock stars! They’re athletes for heaven’s sake.

If he wants to smoke and drink and make merry he best be looking over his very sizable shoulder for photo happy partiers.
Phelps has an obligation to young people (not to mention his sponsors) and a reputation to maintain.  His message should be, “It’s not OK to smoke anything.”

Chances are many youth will smoke marijuana anyway. About 42 per cent of Americans have tried it at least once. But that is no reason to promote it. Phelps has apologized publicly and said he made a mistake. That should be the end of the story.

But it’s not.

Olympic snowboarding champion, Ross Rebagliati, who himself got caught smoking marijuana, has said we should give Phelps a break. Rebagliati didn’t stop there, “I personally think it is safer than alcohol and cigarettes.” Huh! Briliant.

Maybe these role-model athletes should take a look at the big picture and strut clear headedness instead of mind altering substances.

It is common knowledge that first year university is all about partying which is all about drinking, smoking weed and often ingesting other drugs like ecstasy. For a respected athlete to indicate to the world that marijuana is OK is not OK.

All of the above alter the consciousness, lower inhibitions and can lead to excess. The whole territory is a minefield for our young people, a fatal minefield.

Recent figures out of Britain indicate that one in five youth under 16 get drunk several nights a week and that heaving drinking is increasing in the middle class: one in three men and one in five women drink at hazardous levels.

Chief medical officer of the U.K., Sir Liam Donaldson, has just come out with a five-point plan for an alcohol free childhood. He says it is important for parents to establish the norm that childhood and adolescence should be alcohol-free: make clear that drink parties, clandestine drinking, getting drunk (and taking drugs) are not acceptable.

Maybe Michael Phelps, Ross Rebagliati and cohorts should take a gander at his report and thier own obligations.