International swimming officials might offer Michael Phelps the equivalent of an at-large invitation to the world championships this summer.
The 18-time Olympic champion has just finished a six-month suspension for a DUI arrest. As part of his punishment, U.S. officials have left him off their roster for the world championships in Russia in August.
But on Thursday, the executive director of FINA, the sport's governing body, told the Associated Press that it would be "no problem" to offer Phelps an extra spot.
"We may give him another status because he's the greatest athlete [in] history," Cornel Marculescu said. "We can do whatever. He is the No. 1. He doesn't need the accreditations."
Marculescu proposed the accommodation a day after Phelps ended months of speculation by confirming his intention to try for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
"I am looking forward to next year," Phelps said. "I don't think it's too hard to really realize why I came back."
Though the world championships would help him prepare for the Games, Phelps insisted that he did not want to take a spot from any swimmer already named to the U.S. roster.
"By no means do I want this to be a distraction from the team," he said.
A FINA accreditation would give the American team an extra swimmer.
Phelps is returning to the pool this week at an Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Arizona.