Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps lost a big endorsement deal and suffered a three-month suspension from competition because of a photo of him smoking a bong — but the 14-time Olympic gold medalist won't face any drug charges.

A South Carolina sheriff said Monday there wasn't enough physical evidence to bring charges against Phelps, according to The Associated Press. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said holding a bong is not a crime, and Phelps never admitted using it.

"He never said, 'I smoked marijuana.' He never confessed that," Lott said.

Phelps said he is now focused on getting back in the water.

"For me, it's all about recognizing that I used bad judgment and it's a mistake I won't make again," the swimmer said in a statement. "For young people especially — be careful about the decisions you make. One bad decision can really hurt you and the people you care about."

Phelps' decision cost him the three-month suspension by USA Swimming, and Kellogg Co. also decided not to renew their endorsement deal with Phelps when the photo was released.

The sheriff said his department had to look into the case. He said Phelps' "bad decision and the highly published photo placed me and the Richland County Sheriff's Department in a no-win situation. Ignore it and be criticized or address it and be criticized. I chose to do what was right."