PHOENIX, Arizona, August 20. MICHAEL Phelps is not in jeopardy of losing his six medals from the London Olympics after an unauthorized photo from a Louis Vuitton ad campaign was leaked to the public, according to a spokesperson from the United States Olympic Committee.
The issue arose when Yahoo! Sports reported last week that the leaked photo of Phelps in a bathtub with a Louis Vuitton bag next to him violated the controversial Rule 40 created by the International Olympic Committee. The rule stipulated that athletes and coaches competing in the Olympics could not promote products that were not made by official Olympic sponsors between July 18 and August 15. The policy was created in an effort to keep as much of the amateurism the Olympic Games was founded on intact, particularly in the 21st century. The Yahoo! Sports article said neither Phelps nor the Louis Vuitton company authorized the photos, but still insinuated that Phelps could be punished for the leaked photo, with a loss of his medals being the most extreme penalty.
Today, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky posted on Twitter that the USOC has investigated the circumstances behind the leaked photo and determined that there was “no issue from us.”
He went on to say on Twitter that “As far as USOC is concerned (Phelps) or his team didn't clear photos in (Louis Vuitton) campaign to be released before deadline. Ad campaign runs after date. End of story.”
The Louis Vuitton ad campaign, which also features a photo of Phelps in a three-piece suit having a chat with former all-time Olympic medal record holder Larisa Latynina, was scheduled to start August 16. Phelps even waited to post the photo of him and Latynina on his Facebook and Twitter pages until August 16.
Though Rule 40 was created by the International Olympic Committee, an IOC spokesperson told Swimming World earlier today that the national Olympic committees have jurisdiction on policing Rule 40 violations.