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Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 11:38 UK

Phelps ready to return to action

Michael Phelps
Phelps took his personal tally to 14 Olympic gold medals in Beijing

American swimming sensation Michael Phelps is set to compete in his first race since winning a record eight gold medals at last year's Beijing Olympics.

Phelps, 23, was banned for three months in February by US Swimming after photographs were published appearing to show him smoking cannabis.

The ban ended on Tuesday and Phelps will return to competitive action at next week's meeting in Carolina.

"I'm getting back into racing shape and we'll see how it goes," Phelps said.

In Beijing, Phelps broke fellow swimmer Mark Spitz's 36-year-old record of winning seven gold medals at one Games, taking his personal tally to 14 - five more than anyone else has achieved.

At the meet in Charlotte, Phelps is only competing in two of the races he won in Beijing, the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly, as he carries out his promise to target other events in the run-up to London 2012.

BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

"I'm feeling good in the water and swimming some decent times in practice," he said ahead of taking on the 200m backstroke, 200m butterfly, 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle.

"But I have no idea what to expect in the meet. I'm going in open-minded."

Phelps considered quitting after the publication of the picture which ended up leading to his ban.

It appeared in Britain's News of the World newspaper and was said to have been taken at a student party last November when he was on a long break from training.

"There were days I would just come and warm up and say, 'I'm not feeling it.' I would just go home," he said.

But then he asked himself: "What am I doing even thinking about quitting?" I'm 23 years old. I'm not retiring at 23. I have four more years to my career. I still have things I want to accomplish."

see also
Phelps sets sights on London 2012
13 Mar 09 |  Olympics
Phelps accepts 'fair' punishment
06 Feb 09 |  Olympics
IOC backs Phelps over 'pot pipe'
02 Feb 09 |  Americas
Swimmer Phelps regrets pot pipe
01 Feb 09 |  Americas
Phelps wins historic eighth gold
17 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Phelps' eight steps to greatness
16 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Phelps breaks Olympic gold record
13 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Food for fuel: Olympian Phelps' unusual diet
15 Aug 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Is Phelps really the greatest?
13 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Phelps cements place in history
13 Aug 08 |  Swimming

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