On Thursday, the sporting world was awash with the news that Michael Phelps rejoined the US Anti-Doping Agency where he underwent doping tests, the strongest indication that he is returning for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Phelps underwent the drug testing twice between July 1 and September 30 of this year. His Coach Bob Bowman has actually confirmed that Phelps rejoined the testing pool late in the second quarter, meaning that the American champion would be eligible to compete again as early as March 2014. Last month, Bowman wrote to the Associated Press where he said, “He is occasionally training with the group to get back in shape.”
However, the coach still remains non-committal on the subject by repeatedly saying that Phelps’ return to training is only for fitness purposes “to get in shape.” When asked to respond to the speculations, Phelps said, “Nothing is set in stone. If I decide to keep going and swim again, then I’ll compete…If I don’t, I guess I’ll re-retire. Just don’t compare me to Brett Favre [who made several comebacks].”
FINA, the world governing body for swimming, requires one to be tested for at least 9 months before taking part in competitive swimming activities. This also gives him plenty of time to prepare for the 2015 world championships in Russia where top swimmers are expected to take part as a stepping stone to the 2016 Rio games.
This is not the first time that Michael has been dropping subtle hints about a comeback, yet it has only been about a year since he retired from the sport. The 28-year-old American retired from the competition after winning his 18th Olympic gold medal during the London 2012. And now Phelps has returned to training under his coach Bowman at North Baltimore. Phelps holds an impressive collection of 58 gold medals, 11 silver gold medals and 3 bronze medals in his swimming career so far.
This speculation has led many to compare Phelps to Brett Favre because Phelps had earlier announced that his goal was to retire before he turned 30. Last December, the retired swimmer had said that “there is no point in coming back” having done everything he wanted to do.
(image via YouTube)