Saturday, February 7, 2009

Michael Phelps, Mok Ying Ren, Dinah Chan... all suspended from competitions

While Michael Phelps was suspended for smoking from a bong...

Phelps suspended from competition, dropped by Kellogg

(CNN) -- Olympic hero Michael Phelps was suspended from competitive swimming for three months on Thursday -- just hours after one of his sponsors announced it would not renew his contract after a photo surfaced of him smoking from a bong.

USA Swimming, the nation's governing body for competitive swimming, said it was withdrawing financial support for Phelps and barring him from competition during the period of his "reprimand."

"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming-member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero," they said in a statement.

"Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust," the statement continued.

Earlier Thursday, Kellogg Co. said it will not renew Phelps' advertising contract.

"Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg," company spokeswoman Susanne Norwitz said. "His contract expires at the end of February, and we have made a decision not to extend his contract."

Norwitz said Kellogg's relationship with Phelps began with the company's support of the U.S. Olympic team. Kellogg did not renew its sponsorship of the team when it expired in December, she said.

Phelps admitted "regrettable behavior" on Sunday after a British newspaper published the photograph. The tabloid News of the World showed Phelps using the bong during what it said was a November party at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

The Richland County, South Carolina, sheriff's office said Tuesday it was investigating whether Phelps smoked marijuana on the school campus, adding it would file criminal charges if it determined he did.

Both university police and Columbia, South Carolina, police said they would not pursue charges, according to The State newspaper in Columbia. It was unclear where the party took place, the paper said, or whether it was on campus.

On Thursday, before the decisions by USA Swimming and Kellogg were announced, Phelps told CNN affiliate WBAL that the incident was a result of "bad judgment."

"I can learn from it and try to make my life better than it has been in the past," he told WBAL.

Mok Ying Ren and Dinah Chan were suspended for being found in the same hotel room, though not in a compromising position...

Triathletes banned

SINGAPORE'S top male and top female triathletes have been slapped with a competition ban for being caught alone together in a hotel room at the Asian Beach Games in Bali last October.

Mr Mok Ying Ren, 20, and Miss Dinah Chan, 22, were told of their punishment late last week following an investigation into the incident by an inquiry panel, a Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) spokesman said yesterday.

Neither the spokesman nor the two triathletes wanted to reveal details of the ban or incident.

But the pair are believed to have infringed the TAS' code of conduct for athletes which forbids male and female athletes from sharing a room and requires the door to be kept open when there is a visitor of the opposite gender.

Although the duration of the ban is unknown, it is unlikely that the duo would be prevented from competing at the major races this year - the first of which will be the March 27-29 Mekong River ITU Triathlon Asian Cup in Thailand.

Mr Mok, a National University of Singapore medical student and the reigning South-east Asia Games men's champion, would only say: 'We are very happy with the investigation carried out by the TAS and its outcome.

'We would like to put the issue behind us and move forward. Personally, I would like to focus on my training and medical studies, which are more important right now, and not be distracted by this.'

The pair were the only two triathletes among 37 Singapore athletes at the inaugural 17sport Asian Beach Games, and were accompanied by team manager David Hoong and national coach Guo Weidong.

Mr Mok finished the race - including a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run - 12th out of 35 competitors while Miss Chan was ninth out of 15.

The athletes had arrived on Oct 24 and were staying in separate rooms at the Mercure Resort Sanur hotel near Mertasari Beach, the venue of their Oct 26 event.

Sources said that Miss Chan, a National Institute of Education post-graduate student, feared for her safety - the athletes had allegedly been informed of bomb threats - and could not sleep well on the first night. So she went to Mr Mok's room, which was in another block.

The duo - widely speculated in the triathlon fraternity to be dating - are believed to have been caught, although not in a compromising position, when Mr Guo visited the room that night.

Subsequently, the TAS launched an investigation with an inquiry panel consisting of three members - one each from the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), TAS and another national sports association (NSA).

Mr Mahipal Singh, Singapore's chef-de-mission at the Games, said there was no specific rule pertaining to the Games that athletes of the opposite sex could not be in the same room.

However, Mr Singh, who is also SSC's assistant director of coaching development, added that athletes are expected to 'uphold good behaviour and the image of Singapore'.

A check with a number of NSAs showed codes of conduct similar to that of the TAS - even if the athletes are dating or married.



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