Michael Phelps has repeated — over and over and over again — that he will not unretire (for a second time) for a 2020 Olympic bid.
Whether those listening believe he will stick to that is now moot: Phelps, in the unforeseen event he wants to come back, must have notified swimming’s international governing body by this week (perhaps before this week) to be eligible for June’s Olympic trials.
When U.S. Olympic-caliber swimmers unretire, they must re-enter the drug-testing pool six months before they are allowed to compete in high-profile events like trials. To compete at trials, which begin June 21, swimmers must post a qualifying time in an even earlier meet.
Remember that Phelps re-entered the drug-testing pool in 2013 — but did not announce that he did until a few months later — in his comeback for the Rio Olympics.
“If I was racing in the 2020 Games, then that would mean that I would have to be into the drug-testing pool by this point, right, because I have to make Olympic trials, all that process, it’s a nine-month window,” Phelps said on The Dan Patrick Show in October, referencing the previous nine-month rule that was in effect for his previous comeback but has since been shortened to six. “I’m not in the testing pool right now. It’s less than a year away, and there’s not enough time.”
By 2024, Phelps will be 39 years old. Still possible for a comeback, given one American swimmer competed in the Olympics in their 40s — Dara Torres in 2008, earning three silver medals.
“I won’t be in 2020, I guarantee you that,” Phelps said in October, “and I don’t have any plans of coming back any time soon.”
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