Michael Phelps and USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus had “informal, preliminary conversations about a possible reinstatement” for the World Championships this summer, according to ESPN.com.
“It’s complicated, but there are ways in which it could happen,” Wielgus said, according to the report, adding that a reinstatement proposal would be reviewed by national team director Frank Busch and the USA Swimming executive committee. “There’s a pathway for things to be reconsidered — or considered.”
In October, Phelps was suspended for six months and, in agreement with USA Swimming, was withdrawn from the U.S. team for the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, from Aug. 2-9.
The ban came six days after Phelps was arrested on DUI charges in his native Baltimore, his second drunken driving offense. The 22-time Olympic medalist pleaded guilty in court Dec. 19 and received 18 months of probation, but no jail time with a one-year suspended sentence.
Phelps said he will return to competition at a Pro Swim Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., from April 15-18.
Olympic teammates Tyler Clary and Natalie Coughlin both supported a possible Phelps reinstatement for Worlds in comments to ESPN.com.
Last August, Phelps qualified for the World Championships in the 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley and would have likely been used in at least two relays in Kazan.
Phelps was the only U.S. men’s swimmer last year to have a world-leading time in an Olympic event. He came out of a 20-month competitive retirement following the London Olympics to post the world’s fastest time for 2014 in the 100m butterfly.
The World Championships mark the biggest meet between now and the Rio 2016 Olympics and since Phelps’ competitive comeback last April. Phelps, who has worn a “Rio 2016” cap in practice, hasn’t committed to making a run for the 2016 Olympics, which would be his fifth Games.