It would have been safe to assume this would be a quiet period for the athlete. That assumption, however, proved spectacularly wrong on Thursday. That was when news broke that a 41-year-old woman never linked publicly to Phelps before his arrest claimed to be his girlfriend — and announced she was born intersex.
“The truth is I have been living with secrets my whole life,” Taylor Lianne Chandler wrote in a widely reported Facebook post. “I was born intersex and named David Roy Fitch at birth.”
In less than six hours, the narrative of Phelps’s supposed relationship with an intersex woman became one of the week’s hottest stories. Topsy analytics show a staggering surge in tweets referencing Phelps on Thursday afternoon — despite the lack of proof of Chandler’s claims.
There are no images linking Phelps and Chandler. There is no one on the record beyond Chandler talking about a relationship. And there’s no Phelps, who has neither confirmed nor denied the rumors. Voice mails and e-mails left by The Washington Post with agents representing Phelps on Thursday afternoon were not returned.
However, The Post was able to talk with Chandler in an attempt to obtain corroboration of her oft-repeated claims.
What is true: Taylor Lianne Chandler lives in the Washington area. Before she came here, she said she lived in Cape Coral, Fla. Public records show she hopped from house to house across the state. One stop was Lee County, where court records show she was married to a man named Daniel Patrick Chandler, and the couple broke up in 2012 without children. Chandler, who said she is a sign-language interpreter, is a registered Republican.
But beyond that, she’s a mystery. The first mention of her came in an article in the Hollywood Gossip on Oct. 3 shortly after Phelps’s arrest, which reported that “an anonymous tipster tells THG that locals in the Canton area of Baltimore in which Michael lives have determined that Phelps is romantically involved with Washington, D.C. resident Taylor Lianne Chandler.” The Hollywood Gossip ran screen shots of text messages an anonymous source alleged were sent between a “Michael” and Chandler. Shortly afterward, Chandler’s social media profiles materialized, first on Twitter, then on Facebook, which Chandler used to disseminate gossip articles about herself.
Chandler is easy to find. She maintains a Web site on which she calls herself a “public figure” and says she “is pursuing a more public life as interpreting does not lend itself to being in the public eye.” There, her phone number is listed.
Chandler answered on the third ring.
What follows is The Post’s interview with Chandler.
WP: Sounds like it has been a crazy day. You’ve been in the news quite a bit.
Chandler: It sure has been. I’ve been doing interviews all day, television appearances non-stop.
WP: Do you have any proof beyond your word that you are with Michael Phelps? Any photographs?
Chandler: No, I don’t have any pictures of us together. I mean, there are a lot of pictures of us. Just not any pictures of us together. I sort of thought something like this would happen, getting outed, so that’s why I didn’t want anyone to see us together.
WP: What does Phelps say about all of this?
Chandler: I don’t feel like it’s my place to speak for him. What needed to be said has been said. And he can speak for himself.
WP: So you’re saying there’s no proof of your relationship with him beyond your word?
Chandler: There’s lots of proof. Haven’t you seen the text messages? They are all over the Internet.
WP: Do you have them with you?
Chandler: No, my phone with the messages between Michael and I is locked up in a safety deposit box in Florida. I also have a 17,000-page forensic report showing everything — all the geo scans, the cellphone tower signals, the pings. And they’re coming from his phone.
WP: Forensic report?
Chandler: Yes. I had a forensic report done on my phone.
WP: By whom?
Chandler: A forensic team.
WP: So how did all of this happen? How did you come to be known?
Chandler: I was outed by the media. I would love if I had my life back. A private life.
WP: But you have your own Web site calling yourself a public figure. Your phone number is even there.
Chandler: It’s my publicist’s number.
WP: What media outlet was going to out you?
Chandler: I won’t say what media outlet it was at this point. Things are peaceful between me and them. And I don’t want that narrative to change.
WP: Is there any doubt about your claims? Your social media profiles didn’t show up until early October, after Phelps’s arrest.
Chandler: I’ve been in many newspapers, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind I am who I say.