Michael Phelps opens up about battling anxiety, depression

Swimming great Michael Phelps revealed that he has battled severe anxiety and depression for much of his life which drove him to consider suicide after his success at the 2012 Olympics. (Shutterstock)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Michael Phelps opens up about battling anxiety, depression

LOS ANGELES: Swimming great Michael Phelps revealed that he has battled severe anxiety and depression for much of his life which drove him to consider suicide after his success at the 2012 Olympics.
Speaking at a mental health conference in Chicago on Tuesday, the 23-time Olympic gold medal winner talked openly about his long battle with crippling depression and is encouraging others to get help like he did.
“After every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” the 32-year-old Phelps said.
Phelps said he reached rock bottom following the 2012 Olympics in London where he won four gold medals and two silver. For four days he remained in his room without food or sleep.
“I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore,” he said. “I didn’t want to be alive.”
When he hit a low point in his depression, Phelps said, “You do contemplate suicide.”
Over the past two years Phelps has opened up about his struggles. Once again, Phelps said his depression and anxiety problems have been a staple of his life for the past 17 years.
“We’re supposed to be this big, macho, physically strong human beings, but this is not a weakness,” he said. “We are seeking and reaching for help.”
Phelps won his first gold medal in 2004 at the Athens Olympic Games. That same year the 15-year-old from Baltimore experienced his first “depression spell.”
Phelps said as he got older his depression led to his abusing drugs and alcohol.
In 2008, after winning a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, Phelps was photographed smoking from a bong. He has also been arrested twice for drink driving.
“It would be just me self-medicating myself, basically daily, to try to fix whatever it was that I was trying to run from,” he said.
Phelps isn’t the first Olympic national hero to battle dark demons outside the pool.
Australian Ian Thorpe, who broke 22 world records, wrote in his 2012 autobiography that not only did he consider suicide but he planned ways and places to do it in.
Like Phelps, Thorpe chose to “self-medicate” with alcohol to try and manage his vicious mood swings and silence the horrible thoughts going through his head.
In an interview with CNN this week, Phelps said he wants to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness.
“(Mental illness) has a stigma around it and that’s something we still deal with every day,” said Phelps. “I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it and I think this is the only way that it can change.”
Phelps retired after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio as the most decorated Olympian of all-time, winning 28 Olympics medals.


Ronaldo faces multi-million tax fraud fine in Madrid court

Updated 48 min 19 sec ago
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Ronaldo faces multi-million tax fraud fine in Madrid court

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo is returning to Madrid for a court date on Tuesday in which he could be fined 18.8 million euros ($21.4 million) for tax fraud as part of a deal reached with the Spanish taxman.
As part of an agreement arranged in June with the former Real Madrid hero’s lawyers, prosecutors are also asking that the Portuguese attacker, who last summer left the Spanish capital for Italian champions Juventus, be handed a 23-month jail sentence.
However Ronaldo would not spend a day in prison as sentences of up to two years are generally not enforced in Spain for first-time offenders in non-violent crimes.
The hearing, due to start at 9:50 am (0850 GMT), is expected to last just a few minutes as the deal is officially presented to the judge.
He in turn will give the final sentence on Tuesday or the coming days, according to a spokesman for the court in northern Madrid.
Ronaldo will not be given special treatment when he arrives and will have to climb up the courthouse steps amid a likely media scrum despite the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s lawyers asking he be allowed to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight.
The court president refused the request, saying that despite his “great fame,” he wouldn’t “compromise security” at the building, according to a court document.
His request to appear via videoconference was also denied.

Denial
Madrid prosecutors opened a probe into Ronaldo in June 2017 and he was questioned in July that same year.
“I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes,” he told the court then, according to a statement from the sports agency which represents him, Gestifute.
Prosecutors accuse him of having used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions — notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland — to avoid having to pay the tax due in Spain on his image rights between 2011 and 2014.
His lawyers said there had been a difference in interpretation of what was and was not taxable in Spain.
The deal between Spain’s taxman and his lawyers has allowed Ronaldo to avoid having to sit through a long trial that could have damaged his image and seen him handed a heftier sentence.
Ronaldo is not the only footballer to have fallen foul of Spain’s tax authorities.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, once Ronaldo’s big La Liga rival, paid a two-million-euro fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term.
The prison sentence was later reduced to a further fine of 252,000 euros, equivalent to 400 euros per day of the original term.

Accused of rape
But Ronaldo’s legal wrangles won’t be over after a probe was opened in the United States in October after a former American model accused him of raping her in Las Vegas in 2009.
Police in the western US city recently asked Italian authorities for a DNA sample from the footballer.
Ronaldo has always strenuously denied the accusations.
In a New Year’s Eve interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, he said he had a “calm conscience” and was “confident that everything will very soon be clarified.”