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Oops: Louis Vuitton Almost Got Michael Phelps Stripped of All His Olympic Bling

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The accused, via Getty

Posing in a bathtub next to your Louis Vuitton luggage is dangerous for reasons beyond acute wrinkly toe syndrome and possible designer bag ruination. If you are Michael Phelps, you could also lose all those nice gold medals you've been collecting. According to the Associated Press, there's a rule that prohibits Olympians from non-Olympic endorsements, and Phelps' Louis Vuitton ad (that one of him splay-legged in the bath wearing only a Speedo... you remember) violates it. Here's the breakdown.

The problem: Rule 40 in International Olympics Committee handbook "prohibits athletes from promoting non-official sponsors during a nearly monthlong period around the games."

The stakes: All 22 of those golds medals and a few silver and bronze ones, gone.

The infraction: One speedo, one bathtub, one Olympic swimmer of highly decorated fame, and a (probably high paying) advertisement contract shot by Annie Leibovitz.

The saving grace: The picture—one of several for the LV campaign—was leaked early without Phelps' approval.

And the final words from his agent, Peter Carlisle: "All that matters is whether the athlete permitted that use. That's all he can control. In this case, Michael did not authorize that use. The images hadn't even been reviewed, much less approved. It's as simple as that. An athlete can't control unauthorized uses any more than you can guarantee someone isn't going to break into your house."
· Michael Phelps' Louis Vuitton Photos Not An IOC Violation, Says Agent Peter Carlisle [HuffPo]
· Michael Phelps Manages To Salvage the Sexy Reputation of Olympic Swimmers With His New Louis Vuitton Ad [Racked]
· All Michael Phelps Coverage [Racked]