Columbia, S.C. — Now that Michael Phelps won’t face drug charges, he can try to distance himself from a photo that showed the Olympian smoking a marijuana pipe.
A South Carolina sheriff decided Monday after a highly publicized investigation that he simply didn’t have enough physical evidence to charge the 14-time gold medalist.
“We had a photo, and we had him saying he was sorry for his inappropriate behavior. That behavior could’ve been going to a party,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.
“He never said, ‘I smoked marijuana.’ He never confessed that,” the sheriff said.
Phelps, who lost a major endorsement and faces a three-month competition suspension in the fallout from the photo, said he was ready to put the ordeal behind him.
The photo showed Phelps smoking from a marijuana pipe at a party in November when he visited the University of South Carolina.
Lott said authorities seized the marijuana water pipe, known as a bong, in the photo during the investigation but couldn’t prove Phelps had smoked from it.
Holding a bong is not a crime, he said.
Johnson takes wet Pebble
Pebble Beach, Calif. — Dustin Johnson walked out the door and into the rain Monday morning, still expecting to show up on the first tee with a four-shot lead to play the final round at Pebble Beach.
He won not with a big drive or a clutch putt, rather a phone call.
“It was Michael Letzig, one of my buddies out here,” Johnson said. “I was walking out the door to go have breakfast. He called to congratulate me and I didn’t know what he was talking about.”
Some 40 hours after hitting his last shot of the tournament, Johnson won the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when rain washed out the final round for the second straight day.
Men’s top 4 remain same
Connecticut’s third straight week at No. 1 in the Associated Press’ college basketball poll means the Huskies have the second-longest streak of the season, even though it’s sure to come to an end after UConn fell to Pittsburgh on Monday night.
The Huskies (24-1) were again a runaway choice for No. 1 Monday, receiving 66 first-place votes from the 72-member national media panel, and the three teams behind them remained the same for a second straight week.
Oklahoma (25-1), which was No. 1 on four ballots, was second, followed by North Carolina (23-2), which got two first-place votes, and Pittsburgh (23-2).
North Carolina was a unanimous No. 1 in the preseason poll and in the first seven of the regular season. Pittsburgh held the top spot for two weeks and had been tied with Connecticut for the second-longest streak.
Pitt beat UConn, 76-68, Monday night at Hartford, Conn.
Missouri, which beat Kansas and Nebraska last week, had the week’s biggest jump from 17th to No. 11, and the Tigers were followed by Villanova, Clemson, Arizona State, Kansas, Xavier, Gonzaga, Illinois, Purdue and UCLA.
Davidson’s Curry on mend
Davidson, N.C. — Turns out Stephen Curry doesn’t just have a lightning-quick release. He’s a fast healer, too. Davidson’s star guard was walking with a just a slight limp Monday, two days after what appeared to be a gruesome injury to his left ankle.
Heels to decide Zeller’s fate
Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he expects a decision this week on whether freshman 7-footer Tyler Zeller will return from injury or take a red shirt. Zeller broke his left wrist in the win against Kentucky on Nov. 18.
UConn guard out for year
Storrs, Conn. — Connecticut point guard Jerome Dyson has undergone knee surgery and will be out for the rest of the season. The school said Dyson had surgery Monday to repair a tear in the meniscus of his right knee. He was injured during last week’s game against Syracuse.
UConn remains No. 1
Connecticut is running through its opponents this season, especially the ranked ones.
The Huskies remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in the Associated Press’ college basketball poll Monday for a 12th straight week, while Oklahoma received all 45 second-place votes again. It’s the second straight week that UConn and Oklahoma have been 1-2 in both the men’s and women’s rankings.
Armstrong falls, moves up
Santa Cruz, Calif. — Lance Armstrong took a spill when he got tangled with a motorcycle and still moved up a spot in the overall standings Monday at the Tour of California after a rainy and crash-filled second stage.
Two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, Calif., became the third different race leader. He emerged from a chasing group on the final climb with about 17 miles left before finishing a close second to stage winner Thomas Peterson of North Bend, Wash.
Suns promote Gentry
Phoenix — Terry Porter is out as coach of the Phoenix Suns. The failed effort to tame the Suns’ offense went out the door with him.
The sputtering Suns fired Porter just four months into his first season as Phoenix coach and replaced him with assistant coach Alvin Gentry. Gentry promptly promised a return to the style so successful under Porter’s predecessor, Mike D’Antoni.
“We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we’ve had in the past,” Gentry, a former Kansas University assistant under Larry Brown, said at a news conference Monday announcing his promotion.
Suns’ Richardson charged
Scottsdale, Ariz. — Phoenix Suns guard Jason Richardson has been arrested in Scottsdale after police say he was driving 55 mph above the limit with his unrestrained 3-year-old son in the car.
Scottsdale police say an officer clocked him at 90 mph in a 35 mph zone and pulled him over.
Clippers land guard Acker
Los Angeles — The Clippers acquired guard Alex Acker from Detroit and the Pistons’ second-round pick in the 2011 draft on Monday for a conditional second-round selection in 2013. The Clippers also waived center Cheikh Samb.
Two Pro Bowlers sliced
Fred Taylor and Chris McAlister, two former Pro Bowlers, fell victim Monday to the NFL’s annual purge of high-salaried veterans.
The 33-year-old Taylor, Jacksonville’s all-time leading rusher, was cut after 11 seasons as the team continued its offseason makeover. He was due to make $6 million next season.
The 31-year-old McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowler, was cut by Baltimore after 10 seasons. He was scheduled to make $8 million in 2009.
Taylor has 11,271 yards rushing and is the 16th leading rusher in NFL history. He had wanted to finish his career with the team. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2007 after running for 1,202 yards and a career-best 5.4 yards a carry.
In other NFL moves:
The Bengals designated kicker Shayne Graham as their franchise player, leaving three key starters — wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, running back Cedric Benson and left tackle Stacy Andrews — who will become free agents on Feb. 27. Graham is guaranteed a salary of $2.483 million next season if he doesn’t negotiate a long-term deal.
High-priced defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson is among six players cut by the Denver Broncos.
Robertson, acquired last offseason from the New York Jets, was set to count $16 million against the team’s $123 million cap.
Also released were linebackers Niko Koutouvides ($3.06 million) and Jamie Winborn ($2.25 million), safety Marquand Manuel ($1.33 million), defensive end John Engelberger ($2.18 million) and tight end Nate Jackson (less than $1 million).
Michigan QB transferring
Ann Arbor, Mich. — Michigan quarterback Steven Threet says he has been given his release from the school and plans to transfer.
Threet enrolled early at Georgia Tech in 2007 but transferred to Michigan before fall camp. After sitting out the 2007 season under NCAA rules, Threet started eight games for the Wolverines in 2008.