Michael Phelps is no stranger to controversy. Just as he excels in his respective sports, he draws a commensurate amount of attention to his personal life. In 2004, he was arrested and sentenced to 18 months' probation for a DUI charge. In 2009, a photo was published where he was smoking a bong filled with marijuana. This caused him to receive disciplinary action from several sponsor companies, and seemed to damage his relationship with some of his younger fans. In 2012, he was arrested again on a DUI charge. Additional charges were added for excessive speed and crossing the double line. It seems this Baltimore Bullet had personal demons to fight. So he entered rehab and seemed to shape up his personal image. 



But those were his public woes. He's had a few brushes with his private life going public as well. Between 2013 and now, he has been linked to:

  • Kim Petro, a Dominatrix, who allegedly gave him a golden shower and allowed him to masturbate while wearing women's panties. 
  • Taylor Lianne Chandler, an intersex model born with limited male genitalia who admitted she had surgery to construct a "normal" vagina in her 20s and did not reveal the presence of any mutation to Phelps. 
  • A sex worker named Theresa White who had many encounters with Phelps, including a spontaneous threesome. 
  • An onslaught of one night stands which included kinky details, and apparently simultaneous to his relationship with his now-wife, Nicole Johnson. 
Once you see the sort of battles he fought with respect to the onlooking public, it makes sense that he would need to repair his image. An analysis of his repair campaign was conducted and found to have been successful. So is it possible that his "cupping" therapy is actually a veiled way for him to practice BDSM in the public eye without a scandal? Absolutely. 



In both BDSM and alternative "medicinal" therapy, "cupping" is used to refer to a multi-faceted practice (executed several different ways).


"Wet" cupping is a practice where water is introduced into a cup suctioned against the skin, and typically involves drawing a bit of blood, which can look very painful to the average observer.


"Dry" cupping is generally done with a suction pump attached to a nozzle on the opposite side of where the cup meets the skin. This is the kind used by Phelps. It can utilize a fire element, but it is not necessary. 


"Fire" cupping is carried out using a hemostat to rub a flaming alcohol-soaked cotton ball around the entire inside of a glass cup, pulling the cotton ball out, and quickly affixing the glass to the skin. Due to the fire strangling out oxygen and creating a vacuum, this method will draw the skin up slowly by itself, rather than using a pump to aid the process. 

Because many practitioners often love fire play, the third method, fire cupping, is the most widely used method in BDSM. But there are certainly accounts of fire cupping at play in the BDSM community that do not use fire.


All of that said, if Phelps were interested in receiving a BDSM experience without the potential of tabloid exposure* -- a dry cupping in full view of the public while other Olympians engaged in the practice would be a perfect cover. And he should not be shamed for it, ever. 

* I am personally morally opposed, in the most resolute of ways, to a Domme exposing her clientele for the sake of becoming a tabloid star. May a thousand bedbugs infest the sad, garbage life of Kim Petro.