No, Phelps' problems don't seem to prevent him from being seen as a hero. Fans at the tryouts seemed to be excited and awestruck by him. News reports have been praising him. He has done something incredible by qualifying five times. His athletic accomplishments should be praised. However, when describing him to kids as a hero, he should be presented as a human being who did super-human athletic acts, but also fell to temptations.
Michael Phelps might not be the picture of ethical purity, but his professional accomplishments are only more impressive when viewed in the context of his personal struggle with addictive disease. As a society we are quick to judge those who suffer from addictive diseases, but we should remember that those who suffer face a very real battle to control and maintain a normal life.
No, Michael Phelps's past drinking problem does not prevent him from being seen as a hero. Being able to overcome his alcohol problems and then to qualify for the Olympics for the fifth time makes him appear even more heroic. Others can look to him as an example that they can follow as someone who successfully overcame alcohol problems and went on to accomplish greatness.
Even though Michael Phelps has had issues with alcohol, he can still be seen as a hero of sorts. He has made history and had huge accomplishments as an athlete. He has qualified for the Olympics swim team five times. That is twenty plus years of dedication and commitment to the sport. He has also won twenty-two Olympic medals. From this perspective he is a good example to young and upcoming athletes, of what can be accomplished is one stays focused and dedicated. None of us are perfect. We all have flaws that we need to work on; his flaws are amplified because he is a public icon.