Michael Phelps’ comeback has been sidetracked by more trouble away from the pool.The Olympic champion was arrested for the second time on DUI charges early Sept. 30th in his hometown of Baltimore, another embarrassment for a swimmer who came out of retirement this year with his sights set on competing at the Rio Games.Phelps issued an apology that sounded very familiar to the ones he made after a drunken-driving arrest a decade ago, as well as when a British tabloid published a photograph in 2009 that showed him using a marijuana pipe.“I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility,” Phelps said in a statement. “I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down.”Maryland Transportation Authority police charged the 18-time gold medalist after officers said he was caught speeding and failed field sobriety tests.The arrest came about a month after the 29-year-old Phelps won three golds and two silvers at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia, setting himself up to compete at next summer’s world championships and at Rio in 2016.It’s too early to say if Phelps might face sanctions from USA Swimming, which took no action after his 2004 arrest but suspended him from competition for three months over the pot picture.“The news regarding Michael Phelps and his actions are disappointing and unquestionably serious,” the national governing body said in a statement. “We expect our athletes to conduct themselves responsibly in and out of the pool.”The U.S. Olympic Committee had a similar reaction. CEO Scott Blackmun said the organization was “surprised” by Phelps’ arrest and “disappointed on a number of fronts.”Phelps was charged with driving under the influence, excessive speed and crossing double lane lines in the Fort McHenry Tunnel on Interstate 95 in Baltimore, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.If convicted on the DUI charge, he would face a maximum penalty of a year in jail, a $1,000 fine and the loss of his driver’s license for six months. Under Maryland law, the latest case is not considered a second offense because his first DUI conviction occurred more than five years ago.Phelps could face the wrath of his sponsors, though there was no immediate word of any company planning to drop him.“It’s too early to tell,” said Don Rockwell, the CEO of Phelps’ new swimsuit sponsor, California-based Aqua Sphere. “For the most part, we’re supportive. We just need to wait and see what happens. This is not a deal-breaker for us, unless we find out something else that happened.”Phelps also has deals with Subway, Under Armour, Omega and Master Spas.In early August, Phelps announced he was ending his long relationship with Speedo to sign the deal with Aqua Sphere. Just last week, according to Rockwell, company officials were in Baltimore working with Phelps on the sizing of his new suit, which he can begin wearing at meets starting Jan. 1.First, he must deal with a more serious issue.A Maryland Transportation Authority police officer was using radar about 1:40 a.m. when Phelps’ white 2014 Land Rover came through the tunnel at 84 mph in a 45-mph zone, the agency said in a statement.The officer stopped Phelps just beyond the tunnel’s toll plaza.“Mr. Phelps was identified as the driver by his driver’s license and appeared to be under the influence,” the statement said. “He was unable to perform satisfactorily a series of standard field sobriety tests.”Kelly Melhem, a spokesperson for the transportation agency, said department vehicles are equipped with in-car video recording devices. Officials were trying to determine if there was footage of Phelps’ arrest, which could be used as evidence if the case goes to trial.The statement said Phelps was cooperative during his arrest. He was taken to an authority station and later released.After the London Olympics two years ago, Phelps followed through on his long-stated plan to retire, having won twice as many golds as anyone else and 22 medals overall.Phelps returned to competition in April and set his sights on competing at the Rio Games, which would be his fifth Olympics.His first DUI arrest came in 2004 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Phelps received 18 months’ probation, a $250 fine and was required to deliver a presentation on alcohol awareness to students at three high schools.“I recognize the seriousness of this mistake,” he said at the time. “I’ve learned from this mistake and will continue learning from this mistake for the rest of my life.”Phelps wasn’t charged after the picture came to light of him using a marijuana pipe at a party in South Carolina. He did accept the suspension from USA Swimming for what he called “bad judgment” and “a mistake I won’t make again.”One of his major sponsors, Kellogg Co., dropped him almost immediately. Subway stayed with him and remains one of his biggest backers.Phelps’ comeback is going well. “We accomplished everything we wanted to,” he said after the Pan Pacs. “We were able to find out some of the things I need to improve on over the next year, and things I want to improve on.”His biggest issue at the moment is outside the pool.___By Paul Newberry, AP National Writer. AP Writers Juliet Linderman and Amanda Kell in Baltimore contributed to this reportTweetPinShare0 Shares
NEW YORK — A Federal judge put the NFL on the defensive over its four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Aug. 12, demanding to know what evidence directly links Brady to deflating footballs and belittling the drama of the controversy.“What is the direct evidence that implicates Mr. Brady?” Judge Richard M. Berman repeatedly asked NFL lawyer Daniel L. Nash at the first hearing in the civil case in Manhattan Federal Court as Brady and Commissioner Roger Goodell looked on.Nash responded there was “considerable evidence Mr. Brady clearly knew about this,” including records of text messages and phone calls between the quarterback and one of two Patriots employees implicated in the scandal known as “Deflategate.”But he also said there was no “smoking gun” showing Brady had direct knowledge that the balls were underinflated for the first half of the Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game Jan. 18.Brady and Goodell didn’t speak during the hearing, except to introduce themselves to Berman. Brady, his head lowered, looked dour throughout a hearing that lasted about 1 hour, 20 minutes.Immediately afterward, Brady smiled slightly as he signed sketches for two court artists. Berman then met individually with each side for more settlement discussions in private. The talks continued for several hours into the afternoon.Two weeks ago, the NFL asked Berman to declare that its punishment of Brady was properly carried out.The players’ union countersued, asking him to nullify the suspension. The judge has signaled from the start that he wants the parties to reach a swift settlement.Berman called it “ironic or not” that Brady’s statistics were better in the second half of the AFC championship game, after the balls were re-inflated. “You might say (Brady) got no better advantage from the under-inflation,” the judge said.At one point, the judge also seemed to try to defuse the controversy, saying: “This Deflategate. I’m not sure where the ‘gate’ comes from.”When the union got its chance to argue, the judge asked attorney Jeffrey L. Kessler why one of the Patriots employees would deflate balls without Brady’s knowledge.Kessler said the union does not believe the balls were deflated but, if they were, the employee did it on his own because he “thought it would be good for his quarterback.”The judge also questioned why Brady destroyed his cellphone in the midst of the inquiry — a move that the league argues was further proof of his deception.Kessler claimed that the quarterback got rid of the phone on the advice of his agent to protect his privacy but had otherwise cooperated with the inquiry.However, in hindsight, “You’re right, it could have been done a different way,” the lawyer said of the phone.Both sides are scheduled to return to court next week.As Goodell arrived at the courthouse, he was greeted by a smattering of boos as he walked inside. Four minutes later, Brady arrived flanked by four security guards. Both men went through a security sweep like everyone else going to court.Dozens of fans and journalists waited for two of the NFL’s most famous faces at the front entrance of the courthouse, including some fans wearing deflated football hats they were hoping to sell.Goodell suspended Brady after concluding he “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to support a scheme in which a Patriots employee deflated balls on game day. Brady insists he knew nothing about it.In a July 28 decision upholding the suspension, Goodell heavily criticized Brady for having an aide destroy a cellphone containing nearly 10,000 text messages from a four-month stretch including the AFC championship game.He accused him of obstructing the NFL probe about a controversy that represented “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”In court documents, the union’s lawyers said the suspension was unfair and violated the labor contract and complained that it would cause irreparable harm to Brady by forcing him to miss games.They called a June appeal hearing before Goodell “a Kangaroo ourt proceeding, bereft of fundamentally fair procedures.”___By Tom Hays and Larry Neumeister. AP Writer Jake Pearson and AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed TweetPinShare0 Shares
As Touch Football affiliates across the country prepare for what is sure to be a dynamic summer season, Touch Football Australia would like to recognise a few of the great of efforts of some hard-working volunteers over the winter months.Two such volunteers who have made tremendous contributions to their local affiliates and the sport of Touch Football in their areas are Laurie Smyth, president of Sale Touch Association in Victoria, and Warwick Gates (left), administrator of Rosalie Touch Association in Western Australia. Laurie has been the president and engine room of Sale Touch Association since it was established 14 years ago. He is responsible for such roles as assigning fields, allocating referees, providing player sign-in sheets and handling any necessary disciplinary action.Laurie employs an effective system whereby anyone who complains about field markings will mark the fields themselves. He has never had any complaints!The dependable Sale president has championed the Touch Football movement in the Wellington Shire and entire East Gippsland region. As well as his tremendous commitment to Touch Football, Laurie is also a member of the Rotary Club and has regular meetings with Wellington Shire Council. This year the Council recognised the innovative administrator with an award for bringing in $2.2 million revenue to the community over the past eight years from his annual Sale Knockout competition!His involvement with Rotary Club has given Laurie first-hand knowledge of upcoming Rotary and local council grants. He uses the grants for pizza nights for students in the six-team Sale comp as well as to finance players competing locally and at state level. Laurie has procured an impressive list of contacts in his time as Sale president, evidenced by the fact that he has arranged for the Sale Touch Association to pay just $14 a night towards lighting and field hire.Laurie also has had a big hand in promoting the sport to the community. He regularly contributes Touch Football articles to the local Sale newspaper and has also featured on local radio and television promoting the sport. Laurie’s ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude was recently displayed in a disability services article in the internal publication of oil company Esso. In the future Laurie hopes to establishment a school competition as well as a junior Touch competition throughout the Warragul region. Laurie has also arranged for a game of Touch to be played during the Sale Festival on 2nd November, 2007, promoting the sport with a fireworks display at the conclusion of the game. If you’re around Sale at the time get down and check it out. On the other side of the country another volunteer has been similarly busy working behind the scenes for his affiliate. But after 10 years as the administrator of the Rosalie Touch Association, Warwick Gates has decided to take a step back from the club he has been so passionate about.Warwick first joined Rosalie 12 years ago before deciding to join the board of directors with current president Albert Nascimento. Warwick and Albert have been responsible for reworking the infrastructure at Rosalie. This initially meant a reduction in team numbers to ensure that everything ran smoothly within the competition and that all members were satisfied.The restructure has paid off in recent years, with the club experiencing significant growth in membership and team numbers.In the past 12 months 69 teams have competed at Rosalie, up from 51 in 2004. With a young family to look after, Warwick has decided to give up his position as administrator. However he will still be around the club, taking care of the administrator duties in an unofficial capacity and ensuring that the new administrator makes an easy transition into the role when they take over in October. TouchWest State Manager Matt Bamford said Warwick’s involvement had always been impressive.“He’s got an interest not only at club level but at state level,” Bamford said. “He’s always enthusiastic about providing advice and input about referee development matters and that kind of thing.” In March next year Rosalie will host the 2008 Western Australia State Championships.Rosalie Touch president Albert Nascimento said Warwick was sure to be directly involved in the event. “If ever there is anything that would need to be done, you would only have to ask him,” he said. “Even to the extent that if we hadn’t of found another administrator he would have stayed on. “He wouldn’t have just walked away and said that’s me finished – he would have stayed to make sure the work that he has put into place didn’t go to waste.” When Warwick does finally cut ties with the club he’s contributed so much to, his legacy will be the structures that he has put in place that will ensure Rosalie Touch continues to be a well organised and successful club for many years to come. Congratulations to both Laurie and Warwick on their achievements. Touch Football Australia would like to thank both men for all their passion and dedication to our game.