Dubai: The world’s most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, has cast a doubt on how clean next year’s Olympic Games could possibly be.
In an interview with CNN’s Don Riddell, American Phelps admitted that he is convinced that he ever competed in a clean field of swimmers and further that nothing may have changed till this date.
In his wide-ranging interview, Phelps — always an outspoken critic on drug cheats throughout his career — endorsed that he can “guarantee” no athlete has been tested as much as he was on an Olympic level and insisted that everyone should be held to the same standards.
Asked to put a number on a scale of one to 10 on how clean the next Olympics will be, Phelps told Riddell: “Four or five. I can honestly say throughout my whole entire career I don’t know if I ever competed in a clean field. So, if that’s the case, then yeah, I don’t think anything’s changed. There’s a lot of issues out there, and the fact we’re not held on the same playing field is really upsetting.”
Phelps announced his second retirement on August 12, 2016, having won more medals than 161 countries. He is widely regarded as the greatest swimmer of all time and is often considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time as well.
But he wasn’t spared of his own share of anti-doping measures. “You can go back and see how many times I’ve been tested; I guarantee you — guarantee you — there is not another athlete that has that many tests at the Olympic level,” he said. “So, if we’re all getting tested like that — great. But I know we’re not. And until we are, until we’re all held at the same level, nothing is going to change.”
The 23-time gold medallist also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Tokyo Olympics still don’t take place next year.
“I don’t know. I’m starting to believe it might not. When they first announced that they were postponing it, I was shocked they waited as long as they did. I couldn’t comprehend it. And the fact you’re going to put 10,000-plus athletes, plus all the volunteers, plus all the coaches, plus, plus, plus, plus, plus … it doesn’t make sense to me. I just don’t see how it can happen,” he said. “Fingers crossed that everything with vaccines and everything goes smoothly on that front, but I don’t know. There’s just too much unknown. It doesn’t make sense to me. I just don’t see how it can happen.”
Having competed at five Summer Olympics over an amazing sporting career that led to his amazing record of 28 Olympic medals. When he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Games in Beijing, Phelps broke fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven first-place finishes at a single Olympics. At the 2004 Athens Games, Phelps had already tied the record of eight medals of any colour at a single Games by winning six gold and two bronze medals.
At the London Games in 2012, Phelps won four gold and two silver medals, and then at the last Games in Rio de Janeiro, the ‘Baltimore Bullet’ clinched another five gold medals and one silver making him the most successful athlete of the Games.
At the moment, however, Phelps is wary on how Olympians can adjust to the one-year delay of the Tokyo Games. “That was something I was very afraid of when we really started going into it. I was afraid for their mental well-being. Because when you’re regimented as an Olympian, preparing for the Olympics, it takes four years, it takes four full years,” he said. “And when you have that wrench thrown in there, halfway through the fourth year, it can send a lot of mixed signals. So, I’m hoping these athletes were able to kind of refocus and look at what they can control.”