Good looking, with a great physique and 19 gold medals under his belt; it’s no wonder Michael Phelps has been chosen to front a new campaign for Louis Vuitton.
The ad could have landed him in hot water, though, because the striking snaps appeared on the internet on August 13, three days before they were due to be released.
The International Olympic Committee introduced a rule this year that states that no athlete is to participate in non-Olympic marketing campaigns from July – August 2012. Due to this breach, Phelps could be stripped of his four gold and two silver medals he won at the Games.
The first of the two photos for the new campaign shows Phelps bathing in a tub wearing his famous swimming trunks and goggles. The second includes Phelps suited up and sharing a joke with former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, 77, who he has recently overtaken to become the most decorated Olympian of all time.
His gold medals now total 19, compared to Latynina’s 18. Both photographs show the brand’s bags casually slumped on the floor.
Louis Vuitton have said the images were unofficial and were stolen from the company. If this is correct and the images were leaked by an individual, then Phelps will be clear. If however they were leaked intentionally by the brand, he may face punishment.
Phelps’ agent, Peter Carlisle, dismissed any suggestion that the Olympic champion had violated rule 40.