Michael Phelps unsure he has ever raced in clean sport

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Phelps hints that Rio may not be his final Olympics

Michael Phelps, the most medaled Olympian of all time, questioned on Wednesday whether he had ever swum in a 'clean' sport as he prepared for a Rio Games overshadowed by the Russian doping scandal.

"We all want clean sports," the American told a news conference. "We want everybody to be on the same playing field.

"I think I can honestly say as well in my career I don't know if I've ever competed in a clean sport," added the 31-year-old, winner of 18 career Olympic golds and 22 medals. "And it's upsetting."

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

Phelps, who will carry the flag for the United States at Friday's opening ceremony, said there was not much he could control other than his own actions and that would be his priority.

However, his long-standing coach Bob Bowman was scathing about the situation.

"Clearly from a team perspective we are just focused on getting the best performances that we can, regardless of the circumstances," he said, sitting alongside Phelps.

"But I would have to say from a personal standpoint, it's very concerning to me that our governing bodies have dropped the ball in many ways on this. The system is broken and it has to be fixed."

Dozens of Russian athletes have been banned from the Olympics, including essentially the entire track-and-field team, after revelations through whistleblowers of a systematic, state-backed doping program in the country.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has come under fire for not imposing a blanket ban.

Seven Russian swimmers -- Yulia Efimova, Mikhail Dovgalyuk, Natalia Lovtcova, Anastasia Krapivina, Nikita Lobintsev, Vladimir Morozov and Daria Ustinova -- have been banned by the governing body FINA from competing at Rio.


Where are they now? The stars of Sydney 2000, Michael Phelps' first Olympics
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Where are they now? The stars of Sydney 2000, Michael Phelps' first Olympics

Michael Phelps was 15 years old in the 2000 Olympics. He finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly, his only event of the games.

Now 31, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history and is expected to medal again in Rio.

Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe won five medals, three of them gold, in 2000 as a 17-year-old.

Today, the "Thorpedo" does occasional media commentary, owns an aquatic center in Australia, and recently launched a line of pool cleaners called Thorpedo.

Nicknamed "Eric the Eel," Eric Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, became a fan-favorite for his inspirational story, though he finished the 100-meter freestyle with the worst time in Olympic history.

Moussambani will attend the Rio Olympics as the coach of the Equatorial Guinea swim team.

Misty Hyman became the hero of US Swimming when she pulled off a major upset over Australia's Susie O'Neill to win gold in the 200-meter butterfly.

Hyman didn't qualify for the 2004 Olympics and retired from swimming. Today, she's an assistant coach for Arizona State University's swim team.

Dara Torres was another US swimming star, winning five medals, two gold in relays, after taking a seven-year break from swimming from 1992 to 1999.

Torres won 12 medals in her Olympic career. She is now an author and CBS Sports Network panelist.

Russian gymnast Alexei Nemov won the most medals in the entire games, pulling in two individual golds.

It's unclear what Nemov currently does, though he made headlines in 2016 for getting in an altercation with a political activist.

Michael Johnson concluded his legendary career with a gold medal in the 400 meters.

Widely considered the greatest 400-meter runner in history, Johnson now works with BBC and owns a training company called Michael Johnson Performance. He will be with BBC at Rio 2016.

Maurice Greene also starred for US track, winning a gold in the 100 meters and the 4x100-meter relay.

Greene retired as one of the best male sprinters, and has since appeared on "Dancing With the Stars" and volunteered as a track coach at UCLA.

Marion Jones dominated women's track for the US, winning five medals, three of them gold.

Jones was later stripped of those medals after admitting to taking performance-enhancing drugs. She has since written a book and become a public speaker.

Ato Boldon shined for the Trinidad and Tobago track team, pulling in a silver and bronze medal.

Today, Boldon is a track and field analyst for NBC Sports and ESPN.

Sprinter Cathy Freeman was a star for Australia in 2000. An Indigenous Australian, she won gold in the 400 meters and carried the torch in a spectacular opening ceremony.

Today, Freeman runs her own foundation focusing on the education of indigenous children and is an IOC Sport and Active Society Commission Member

Vince Carter was one of the stars of the US basketball team after pulling off "le dunk de la mort" — his wild dunk over 7-foot French center Frederic Weis.

Now, Carter is 39 years old and still playing in the NBA.

Meanwhile, Sheryl Swoopes averaged over 13 points per game to lead the US women to a gold medal.

Swoopes was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016 and was coaching the Loyola Chicago women's basketball team but was fired in 2016.

American wrestler Rulon Gardner became a legend when he pulled off a massive upset over Russian wrestler Alexander Karelin, who had not lost in 15 years.

Gardner has had a bit of a wild journey since 2000. He's attempted several comebacks, struggled with weight, appeared on "The Biggest Loser," and worked briefly as an analyst. He attempted to make the trials for Rio 2016 but was unsuccessful.

Lisa Fernandez set an Olympics softball strikeouts record for the US.

Today, Fernandez is an assistant coach for UCLA's softball team.

In 2000, Venus, 20, and Serena Williams, 18, won gold in women's doubles. Venus also won gold in women's singles.

Now, Serena is 34, Venus is 36, they're ranked first and sixth in the world, respectively, and own 114 combined singles titles.

In 2000, Lance Armstrong was 28 years old and fresh off his first Tour de France victory. He won bronze in the individual time trial.

Armstrong, of course, after his immense doping scandal, was stripped of his Olympic medal. Now, Armstrong has various projects, including a podcast.

Leontien Van Moorsel took home three gold medals in cycling for the Netherlands in her return from a battle with anorexia.

Van Moorsel is the most decorated women's cyclist of all-time and now owns Leontien Total Sports, a sportswear shop, and the Leontien Foundation, which raises money and awareness for eating disorders.


However, the status of Lobintsev and Morozov remains uncertain after they appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Asked what he would do to clean up the sport if he were running FINA, Phelps ducked the question but said he agreed with Bowman about the state of sport as a whole.

"I think there's something that needs to change about all sports, not just swimming," he said. "As athletes you want to be able to compete on an even playing field.

"We've had this problem for how many Olympics now? It seems almost every time there's something that comes up. And it's sad. It's really sad that we can't control it - that somebody who is in charge cannot control it."

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