Could Michael Phelps LOSE his medals? Swimmer in hot water after Louis Vuitton ad is leaked before end of Olympics

Will Michael Phelps LOSE his medals Swimmer in hot water after Louis Vuitton ad is leaked before end of Olympics

Rule 40 in the International Olympic Committee's guidebook states that no athlete is able to participate in non-Olympic marketing during the Games and a specified period afterwards

The Louis Vuitton ads surfaced on Twitter and various websites on August 13, which fell within the banned time frame

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UPDATED:

01:06 GMT, 18 August 2012

As the most decorated Olympian of all time, it was only a matter of time before Michael Phelps landed a major fashion endorsement.

But in posing for the Louis Vuitton campaign images that surfaced on Twitter on August 13, 2012, the U.S. Olympic swimmer may be stripped of his medals, four gold and two silver, from the London 2012 Games.

According to Rule 40, a regulation introduced by the International Olympic Committee earlier this year, no athlete was able to participate in non-Olympic marketing campaigns from July 18 to August 15, 2012.

Champions: Michael Phelps may lose his medals as his ads for Louis Vuitton (above) were unveiled at a time he was unable to participate in non-Olympic marketing. He's seen in a bath with the brand's bag beside him

Champions: Michael Phelps may lose his medals as his ads for Louis Vuitton (above) were unveiled at a time he was unable to participate in non-Olympic marketing. He's seen in a bath with the brand's bag beside him

Champions: Mr Phelps is also seen in another leaked image with former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina (left)

Champions: Mr Phelps is also seen in another leaked image with former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina (left)

If the photographs were in fact due for
release on August 16 and a rogue individual had simply leaked them, Mr
Phelps will be in the clear. But if the photos were in fact leaked
intentionally by the brand, the sporting hero will face punishment.

The French fashion house said after the two photos, snapped by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, had leaked that they were in fact unofficial images and were stolen from the company.

Mr Phelps' management team have also denied releasing the images.

The official IOC rule states: 'A competitor or a team may lose the benefit of any ranking obtained in relation to other events at the Olympic Games at which he or it was disqualified or excluded; in such case the medals and diplomas won by him or it shall be returned to the IOC.'

Two photographs of the athlete were posted on various websites on August 13.

Winner: The star won four gold medals and two silver medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Winner: The star won four gold medals and two silver medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games

One showed Mr Phelps posing in a bathtub
as the brand's signature bag sat slumped on the floor beside him while
another showed him on a couch, sharing a laugh with former Soviet
gymnast Larissa Latynina, 77.

As a less severe punishment, Mr Phelps may also simply be fined if he is found to have breached Rule 40.

No matter the outcome, the star has followed in the footsteps of Sean Connery and Catherine Deneuve, posing with the French label's famous monogrammed bags in the couch image.

The caption beneath, which is written in Italian, bears the words: 'Due percorsi straordinari. Uno stesso destino', which translates as: 'Two extraordinary paths. The same fate.'

Swansong: Michael Phelps pictured during the Games with his medal for the 100m butterfly

Swansong: Michael Phelps pictured during the Games with his medal for the 100m butterfly

The
new Core Values campaign image was released at the same time as the
bath image, in which Mr Phelps is seen wearing trunks and goggles in a
bath, with an LV-monogrammed bag beside the tub.

Though it is designed to look like it
too is for Louis Vuitton, the luxury label told MailOnline: 'It is not
an official Louis Vuitton image.'

The official new advertisement is the latest in an ongoing
series titled Core Values.

The campaign has also featured images of Francis Ford Coppola with his
daughter Sofia, Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards and even Mikhail Gorbachev.