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VIDEO: Michael Phelps On Tiger Sex Scandal: "It Can’t be Easy"

Dec. 18 2009, Published 10:35 a.m. ET

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Michael Phelps knows the fine line between Wheaties box role model and tabloid laughingstock, so it came as little surprise Thursday when the superstar swimmer expressed his empathy for Tiger Woods.

"I think he’s going through a hard time now, I assume, and it can't be easy," the Baltimore native told reporters in England, where he is slated to participate in a swim meet dubbed the British Gas Duel in the Pool. "You see who your actual friends are and who supports you.

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"I will say I'm wishing the best for him and his family at a time like this," Phelps said.

Phelps, who won a record-eight gold medals during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, had his own public controversy January 2, when tabloids published a picture of the 14-time gold medalist smoking marijuana out of a water pipe.

"I'd be the first to admit I've made a lot of mistakes both in and out of the pool," he said. "But of the mistakes I've made I've never made the same mistake again. I've become a much stronger person, and I've helped other people not make the same mistakes."

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