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Michael Phelps to Lose Olympic Gold Medals over Louis Vuitton Photo Shoot?

Michael Phelps may be the greatest Olympian of all time, but even he isn’t above the rules set forth by the International Olympic Committee.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Phelps, an 18-time gold medalist, is in hot water over a photo shoot he did recently with Louis Vuitton. In the spread, Phelps is seen sitting in a bathtub, staring hypnotically into the camera, and weirdly not paying attention to the bag that’s just kind of laying beside him on a towel.

It’s a really strange scene.

However, it’s not the photos’ layout that is causing problems. No, the reason that the IOC is up in arms regarding Phelps’ shoot is because it violates Rule of 40 of the Olympic code – thou shall not promote any non-Olympic sponsors from July 18 to Aug. 15. (Okay, I added the 'thou shall' for emphasis.)

Per Chris Chase, the penalty for violating Rule 40 can be as minor as a little fine or as major as the stripping of medals. Here is the precise wording: "A competitor or a team may lose the benefit of any ranking obtained in relation to other events at the Olympic Games at which he or it was disqualified or excluded; in such case the medals and diplomas won by him or it shall be returned to the IOC."

So why did Phelps’ team make such an egregiously dumb error? Well, they didn’t. The photos were supposed to drop on Aug. 16, but somehow they leaked early. For their part, the powers that be at Louis Vuitton deny releasing the photos, too.

Will the IOC actually strip the best Olympic athlete of our generation of his hard-earned medals? Probably not. But even still, this is an unfortunate controversy for Phelps to be involved in given how brightly his star was shining in the aftermath of London.

(Kudos Yahoo! Sports)

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