‘Informal’ talks on Michael Phelps competing at worlds

Michael Phelps possibly could swim in this summer’s world championships if his ban is overturned by USA Swimming.

There have been discussions about Phelps’ possible participation in the world meet to be held in Russia starting in late July.

However, USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman characterized any conversations as informal and preliminary. He says it is premature to comment about the future.

Phelps’ six-month suspension as a result of his second drunken driving arrest ends April 6. He had already qualified for worlds, the biggest international meet leading up to next year’s Rio Olympics.

The 18-time Olympic champion agreed he would not represent the U.S. at the world meet as part of his suspension by USA Swimming handed down last fall. Phelps has remained in training and is expected to return to competition at a meet in Arizona next month.

Phelps’ representatives have declined to discuss the matter.

The deadline for the U.S. to submit the names on its final roster for worlds is June 15. Preliminary entries were due last Monday, with countries having to list the maximum number of competitors they intend to register in each event.

The 29-year-old superstar is qualified for the world meet in the 100-meter freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley. He could swim in up to three relays, whose lineups are decided by the coaching staff.

After it was announced that Phelps wouldn’t swim in Russia, Olympian Ryan Lochte was named to replace him in the 100 free, Olympian Tyler Clary took his place in the 200 IM and Tim Phillips was added to the team for the 100 fly.

Phelps came out of retirement last year with his sights set on competing at a fifth Olympics in Rio. Not competing at the world meet would prevent him from measuring himself against the best swimmers, but wouldn’t affect his chances of competing in the Olympics. The U.S. team for Rio will be chosen at trials next summer.

Phelps’ arrest last fall came about a month after he won three golds and two silvers at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia. He retired after the 2012 London Olympics, having won a record 18 gold medals and 22 medals in four games.

He has since attended a rehab program and got engaged recently.

Conversations about Phelps’ possibly swimming at worlds were first reported by ESPN.