Michael Phelps says he ‘never competed in a clean field once’ and athletes who test positive for doping should be banned immediately

Michael Phelps, 34, took time from his the third year of retirement from competitive swimming and to speak out about issues that affect the playing field. The most decorated Olympian of all time told CNN that the issue of doping in sport "needs to change."

Phelps, whose wife Nicole gave birth to their third son in September, has won 28 Olympic medals, including 23 golds. He thinks he's "never competed in a clean field once."

Doping controversies have taken a worldwide hold on athletic competitions, from the Olympics to the Tour de France and more. Russia was banned from the 2018 Olympics after a probe into doping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by saying that every country was guilty of doping.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

"If you test positive once you should never be allowed to compete again," Phelps said. In addition to speaking out about doping, Phelps has been an advocate for mental health, water safety for children, and water conservation.

Phelps struggled with depression during his time as a competitive swimmer and has lent advice to other professional athletes during retirement, including Tiger Woods and Katie Ledecky. He told Business Insider in 2018 that it was a welcome change of pace to watch other swimmers but not participate himself.

"I love being around the pool, I love being around the sport, but I don't miss that grind that I put my body through for 25 years to get myself to be ready to be able to compete at a high level," Phelps said. "I'm very happy with, I guess, the other side where I get to just watch."

He is also kept busy as a father to his three sons, named Maverick, Beckett, and Boomer. Phelps teaches Boomer, now 3-years-old, mental health techniques like the "lion's breath," which involves taking a deep breath and a step back before letting anger and frustration take hold. Phelps says Boomer, who is his "mini me," has already mastered it.

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