People familiar with the situation told the Daily Beast that journalist Karen Crouse didn’t inform the Times's management when she inked the deal earlier this year.
Crouse's editors found out about the deal after reading about it in a Sports Illustrated story dated July 9, the news outlet reported.
A spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee told the Daily Beast that he was informed Crouse was taken off the Olympic beat so they could “recalibrate on coverage.”
The reported suspension comes after Crouse wrote a story about Phelps's retirement on June 15, with the headline “Michael Phelps Is Not Going to the Olympics, but His Wake Is.”
Eric Wemple, a media critic, first pointed out in an editorial for The Washington Post that the Times quietly attached an editor's note to the story on Tuesday — roughly a month after original publication.
“After this article was published, editors learned that the reporter had entered an agreement to co-write a book with Michael Phelps. If editors had been aware of the conflict, the reporter would not have been given the assignment,” the editor’s note read.
Crouse declined to be interviewed by Wemple, and didn’t return a request for comment from the Daily Beast.
Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokesperson for The New York Times, told The Hill in a statement, “The New York Times has robust and well-established policies and processes in place to ensure our coverage meets our high bar for independence, fairness, and accuracy.”
“Our guidelines state that no staff member may serve as a ghost writer or co-author for individuals who figure or are likely to figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise. As the editors’ note makes clear, the arrangement was a conflict of interest. This was a significant lapse in judgment. We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action,” she said.