Phelps 'used cannabis pipe' - report
A British newspaper published a photograph Sunday allegedly showing multiple Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps inhaling from a glass pipe generally used to smoke cannabis.
The News of the World weekly said the picture was taken on November 6, almost three months after Phelps won an historic eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, when he went to a party at the University of South Carolina.
The report claimed 23-year-old Phelps was visiting Jordan Matthews, a girl who was a student at the university and who he was secretly dating, and threw himself into a series of parties in houses and bars.
The photograph shows Phelps, wearing a white t-shirt and a baseball cap back to front, holding the pipe -- known as a bong -- to his lips and apparently inhaling.
The tabloid quoted a partygoer as saying: "You could tell Michael had smoked before. He grabbed the bong and a lighter and knew exactly what to do.
"He looked just as natural with a bong in his hands as he does swimming in the pool. He was the gold medal winner of bong hits.
"Michael ended up getting a little paranoid, though, because before too long he looked like he was nervous and ran out of the place."
There was no immediate way of establishing whether the newspaper's claims were true.
The News of the World claimed that when it contacted Phelps's management team they offered "a raft of extraordinary incentives" in return for not publishing the photograph, but the newspaper refused.
Phelps was recently named the US Olympic Committee Sportsman of the Year for making Olympic history in Beijing by collecting the most golds won by any athlete at a single Olympics, giving him a career total of 14 golds.
He also set seven world records in Beijing.