Associated Press: Michael Phelps hardly emerged unscathed after a photo surfaced showing him smoking from a marijuana pipe: It cost him a major endorsement and a three-month competition suspension. But the Olympian said he's focused on swimming again now that he won't face drug charges.
A South Carolina sheriff said Monday that there wasn't enough physical evidence to charge the 14-time gold medalist.
Phelps said in a statement issued after the decision that he looks forward to diving back into the pool after the ordeal.
"For me, it's all about recognizing that I used bad judgment and it's a mistake I won't make again," the statement said. "For young people especially -- be careful about the decisions you make. One bad decision can really hurt you and the people you care about."
The photo showed Phelps smoking from the pipe -- known as a bong -- at a party in November when he visited the University of South Carolina. However, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Phelps never admitted to smoking marijuana.
"He never said, 'I smoked marijuana.' He never confessed that," the sheriff said.
Holding a bong is not a crime, he said.
"They're sold in stores. We're kind of sending a double message," Lott said. "You can buy rolling papers at any convenience store in the world, but we're telling kids not to smoke dope."
Phelps has already suffered because of the photo -- USA Swimming suspended him for three months in the wake of the photo, and Kellogg Co. said it would not renew its endorsement deal with him.
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