Michael Phelps is calling on sports authorities to better police their respective disciplines, especially with regards to doping, the American swimming legend told reporters in Dubai on Monday.
Speaking ahead of the launch of an Under Armour store at Dubai Mall, Phelps discussed his views on the upcoming generation of athletes, and whether they will be up for the tremendous task of following in his footsteps, and the footsteps of other sporting icons that are departing the scene at the moment.
Phelps ended his professional swimming career after the Rio Olympics last summer, where he captured five more medals to take his total tally at the Games to 28, including a record 23 gold.
“I hope in sports over the next couple of years that we can have people that will emerge – I believe there are people out there, I feel like there has to be people out there that are hungry enough, and hopefully they’re doing it the right way,” Phelps said in Dubai on Monday.
“We talk about the Olympics, we can also talk about doping too, that’s something that has to change as well. So I think for the sports to really grow and change, I think we’re going to have to see a lot of – for me I would like to see federations step up and police certain things so we are all competing on an even playing field.”
With track icon Usain Bolt retiring earlier this summer at the London 2017 World Athletics Championships, Phelps bidding farewell to the pool in Rio, and tennis superstar Roger Federer turning 36 last month and edging closer to the end of his career, are we perhaps about to witness a lull in international sport with many all-time greats stepping away?
“For me, in my generation, in my sport career I think I’ve been lucky to see some of the greatest athletes in their respective sports. You think of where sports are right now, the best of the best have just been crushing records,” said the 32-year-old from Maryland.
“I think in some sports you see kids that aren’t hungry that want to go out and do different things. You see a lot of up and coming athletes so I think sports will forever change. I think for me the one frustrating thing that I see in my sport, in swimming, is there are some people that I think feel that they deserve to be given something instead of working at it and that frustrates me because I know how hard it is to get to the top.
“It’s easy to get the top, it’s harder to stay there. So I think once people get there, I think they kind of lose sight on what it takes to stay there or how hard it is to stay there.”
Stay tuned for more from Phelps’ insightful and revealing conversation in the UAE.