Michael Phelps: ‘It Was Oregano’

Washington, DC – Federal authorities in collaboration with local law enforcement in South Carolina have uncovered new evidence that U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps smoked the delicious and nutritious herb oregano at a University of South Carolina party, and not the illegal, banned substance marijuana as previously thought.

Global inspiration and American hero Phelps made post-Beijing headlines when popular British tabloid News of the World published a photo of the swimmer apparently smoking from a marijuana device. However, when directly asked by Matt Lauer of the Today Show whether he was indeed smoking pot, Phelps coyly answered, “It was a bad mistake, I mean, we all know what you and I are talking about. It was a stupid mistake… bad judgment.”

This deft dodge may just have saved Michael Phelps‘ career.

A hearty perennial herb commonly found in kitchens everywhere, oregano is sometimes mistaken for cannabis, particularly by college students.  However, unlike cannabis, is generally not considered as “cool” to smoke. Indeed, rather than being placed in a colorful, enticing bong and smoked for sinful pleasure, it is most often found on scrumptious New York-style pizza, or taken as a dietary supplement in pill form.

Close pal of Phelps, fellow Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, defended him, saying, “Michael is under so much pressure and scrutiny right now, from family, companies he endorses, and the media. It’s totally understandable for him to mistake a common herb for pot. The same thing happened back in ‘84 with Mary Lou Retton.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity as a previously convicted drug dealer, a source familiar with the facts of the case revealed that oregano is often sold to unsuspecting freshman college students as a substitute for pot, often at tremendous profit to the seller. Our own investigation showed that a one-pound bag of tasty Origanum vulgare can be had for as low as $9.94, whereas one pound of Cannabis sativa goes for about $1000 on the street, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency – a 100x markup.

Analysts from the U.S. Intelligence Community have been poring over evidence in the case as part of a moonlighting extra-credit case they’ve termed “Project Human Fishy.”  They have noted photographic evidence suggesting Phelps may have been in a poor frame of mind for discriminating Origanum from Cannabis. “Note the time on his wristwatch,” commented Dr. Carl Hodges, a Ph.D. graphical engineer, on the now-classic photo of Phelps passionately mouthing a sizable bong. “Clearly at approximately 1:50am, one’s judgement is impaired. Not to mention evidence we have obtained which suggests serious abuse of a six-pack of Lone Star beer.”

Dr. Hodges was unable to elaborate on the so-called “Lone Star theory” as our discussion would have then wandered into carefully-guarded classified methods of photographic analysis.  A spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency would not confirm or deny reports that Mr. Phelps is “a national asset of importance to U.S. national security.”

The oregano-cannabis doublecross as exemplified by the Phelps incident takes place so often that oregano fans are fighting back. Herbert Greenleaf of the South Texas Unit of the Herb Society of America is not amused by this high-profile smearing of an otherwise perfectly delicate food topping. In a recent interview with the Journal of Plant Physiology he opined, “The Phelps incident is truly a shame for Greek and Italian food lovers all over the world. Innocent oregano’s brand is degraded by this type of behavior. Frankly, I now feel more than a little embarrassed that we named oregano ‘Herb of the Year’ in 2005.”

But big-money corporations wishing to do business with Phelps have a different take. A representative for food giant General Mills, the dashing Bradford Whitinghouse III, held a press conference at the Wheaties packaging facility in Carlisle, Iowa: “We’re relieved that our healthy investment in the Michael Phelps brand isn’t tarnished. Everyone is a little misguided at such a young age. Have none of you ever gotten Ben-Gay smeared all over your unattended tighty-whities during sixth grade gym class? Besides, did you know that ‘oregano’ is derived from the Greek words oros and ganos, translating literally to ‘mountain joy’? It’s almost poetic for God’s sake.”

The everyday joy of household oregano is not to be confused with the so-called “Mexican oregano” or Lippia graveolens that is used in medical practices by shamans in the Southwestern U.S. as part of a larger belief system involving talking to spirits, bone throwing, and employing trances to incite visionary ecstasy. As our anonymous source related, “Yeah, that’s basically pot, man.”

The board of directors of USA Swimming, the national governing body for U.S. competitive swimming, is expected to meet at its headquarters within the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO within the week in order to review its previous three-month suspension of Phelps.  While USA Swimming President James Woodson had no immediate comment on the matter, patriotic but relatively inexperienced board member Blake McCaye publicly expressed some frustration while waiting on an inordinately long line at Starbucks for his grande cafe latte: “We’ve gotta get that guy back in the pool. For America. For freedom.”

After the news about Phelps smoking oregano broke, a call placed to the NBC office of college dropout Matt Lauer resulted in what appears to be a strangely worded apology for grilling Phelps so hard about illegal drug use during their otherwise pleasant morning poolside chat. “Hey, my poop stinks too – mistakes can happen to anyone.”

A smoking hot public relations representative for Michael Phelps commented, while teasing the media with her wavy brown hair and luscious eyelashes, that his attendance at future University of South Carolina house parties was unlikely.

This satire is an exclusive April Fool’s Day preview of the type of writing I’ll be doing at True/Slant starting later in April.

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This post was written by:

Mark Drapeau - who has written 225 posts on Dr. Mark D. Drapeau.

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Justin Thorp Says:


  2. Tony Primerano Says:

    Well done. I see a future for you at The Onion. :-) Is True/Slant going to be similar to The Onion?

  3. Mark Drapeau Says:

    @Tony – True/Slant is going to be a bunch of great writers giving their slant on the news. But I’m going to use part of my column to write satire about the news – probably one per week, mixed in with non-fiction! Thanks.

  4. meznor Says:

    Haha.. good one. Well written. :D

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