The moment swimming fans have been waiting for came Thursday afternoon. They were not disappointed.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released its third quarter drug-testing statistics, through Sept. 30. USADA documents testing done on all registered Olympic sports athletes in a searchable database.
Michael Phelps was drug tested twice in the third quarter of 2013, according to those statistics. They were his first drug tests since his retirement following the 2012 Olympics and open the door for a comeback.
“If I decide to keep going and swim again, then I’ll compete,” Phelps told The Associated Press. “If I don’t,” he added, letting out a big laugh, “I guess I’ll re-retire. Just don’t compare me to Brett Favre.”
This gives him the option of returning to competition nine months from the time he re-entered the drug-testing pool.
Phelps said he’s lost 15 pounds in recent workouts at North Baltimore Aquatic Club and “nothing is set in stone.” Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman, said Phelps re-entered the testing pool at the end of the second quarter and would be eligible to compete in March.
“I just think he’s in a place where he’s feeling good about swimming,” Bowman told the AP. “If he chooses to compete, he’s got some time. I like having the ability to do it. To be perfectly honest, he’s not anywhere near being able to compete in a meet or anything like that. We’re just getting started on improving his fitness. We’ll see where that goes.”
That’s key because if Phelps wants to compete at the 2015 World Championships, the biggest meet between now and the Olympics, he’d have to compete at the qualifying meet for them, which is the 2014 U.S. Championships in August.
He’s now eligible for the 2014 U.S. Championships, should he remain in the drug-testing pool.
Phelps “splashed around” at USA Swimming’s Minneapolis Grand Prix on Thursday morning.