Ray Lewis, a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and close friend, gave Phelps a harsh reality check which caused him eventually to enter the treatment facility. He has been clean ever since. “I haven’t had a single sip and will not have a sip…My body fat has dropped significantly, and I’m leaner than I’ve ever been,” he explains.
After the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where he took home 4 gold medals and 2 silver ones, Phelps had announced his retirement. Yet that later changed when he said he would compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, along with understanding that something had to change in the way he perceived professional swimming.
“After ’08, mentally, I was over. I didn’t want to do it anymore. But I also knew I couldn’t stop. So I forced myself to do something that I really didn’t want to do, which was continue swimming,” he confessed. “That whole four-year period, I would miss at least two workouts a week. Why? Didn’t want to go. Didn’t feel like going. Screw it. I’m going to sleep in. I’m going to skip Friday and go for a long weekend.”
In 2009 a photograph of Phelps using a water pipe, a device meant for smoking, got published. Phelps has admitted that the photo was authentic and apologized publicly.
Ahead of the 2016 Olympics, Phelps assures his fans he’ll be better than ever. “I’m back to being the little kid who once said anything is possible,” he says. “The performances were there because I worked, recovered, slept and took care of myself more than I ever had. You’re going to see a different me than you saw in any of the other Olympics.” Rio will be Phelps’ fifth Olympics.