Michael Phelps Won’t Face Pot Charges

Michael Phelps can breathe easier today—with or without a cloud of post smoke filling his lungs.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced today that he’s chosen not to pursue charges against Phelps in relation to a photo of the Olympic swimmer smoking from a bong last November, the State reports.

Lott had earlier said that he might charge Phelps if it could be proven  that he had been smoking marijuana in the photo.

However, Lott held a press conference at 3 p.m. Eastern time today at the Sheriff’s Department headquarters.

While announcing that he wouldn’t pursue charges, Lott nonetheless defended his decision to pursue the possibility.

“Michael Phelps is truly an American hero…but even with his star status, he is still obligated to obey the laws of our state,” Lott announced. “By ignoring the November incident, I would have been sending a message of tolerance and condoning the use of illegal drugs. I could not do that, nor have I ever done that.”

Lott concluded that the incident hadn’t yielded sufficient evidence to charge Phelps. Unfortunately, others connected to the photo aren’t faring as well as Phelps; last week investigators arrested eight people, including the owner of the bong, on drug charges.

Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Beijing last years, was photographed supposedly smoking from a bong at a house party in Columbia, South Carolina, last November. An uproar ensued after British newspaper News of the World published the photo at the beginning of February.