I can't blame him, but imagine what would have happened if he had said something like...
Hello, does anyone here remember I just won eight frikkin gold medals? Obviously, smoking a little pot did NOTHING to diminish my ability to own every other swimmer in the whole frikkin world. So what's our problem here? Why does the International Olympic Committee have its panties in a wad over me smoking a little pot? Why is the world at war with a harmless weed? Like nobody on the IOC ever took a hit off a bong. Please.
Do they think I even need them? I don't need them. I already won the laurels, and I was high when I did it - so what? Can somebody honestly tell me why hemp is even illegal? Would News of the World have even published my picture if I had been hitting off a beer bong instead? I don't think so.
If ever there was proof that hemp isn't a harmful substance, you're looking at it right here, sitting in front of you, wearing eight frikkin gold medals. When you've won eight gold medals, you can tell me what is and isn't good for my body and my mind.
If ever there was proof that all the anti-drug information about hemp is pure propaganda without an ounce of truth to it, he is standing before you right now, and you shall watch him light up! Won't you join me?
When another Olympic champion, Muhammed Ali, was given a choice between doing the right thing for his career and the right thing for his soul, he chose his soul. His protest against the Vietnam War was instrumental in shifting popular opinion against it. He worked his whole life to become the greatest boxer the world has ever known, then sacrificed his prime years rather than go off to fight in an immoral war against a people who had never done us any harm. The war against hemp isn't like the war in Vietnam. There are no bombers, no tanks, no grunts dying in the jungle. Instead, its victims are ordinary people, as well as extraordinary people like Michael Phelps, whose lives are ruined because they chose to smoke a harmless weed for pleasure and broke an arbitrary law that should never have been written in the first place. Phelps shouldn't have been forced to apologize for doing something millions of people do every day, and if their behavior causes harm, it is only because their behavior has been immorally criminalized.
I don't blame Michael Phelps for taking the safe road he did. That's a monumental decision to make, and on the personal level, it isn't worth possibly ruining your life just to stand up for the right to smoke pot. It seems trivial, on its face. But think of the millions of people he could have freed from a soul-destroying prison sentence, if he had chosen instead to become the very public face of the decriminalization movement.
He could have shook up the world. He'll always be a champion, but he could have become a hero.