The News of the World said it rejected an ‘extraordinary deal’from Michael Phelps’ spokesman when it decided to print pictures of the Olympic swimmer with a cannabis pipe.
The story – published across pages eight and nine – showed Phelps inhaling from what appeared to be a cannabis pipe.
He has since apologised for his behaviour.
But in the story, the News of the World made clear how seriously Phelps’ spokesman, Clifford Bloxham, took the picture.
The story said: ‘Spokesman Clifford Bloxham offered us an extraordinary deal not to publish our story, saying Phelps would become our columnist for three years, host events and get his sponsors to advertise with us.
‘In return, he asked that we kill Phelps’ bong picture. Bloxham said: ‘It’s seeing if something potentially very negative for Michael could turn into something very positive for the News of the World’.”
By 9.30am on Monday, the story had attracted 1,155 comments on the News of the World’s website.