Australia's Olympic sedative ban
Australia has banned its competitors at the Olympic Games in London from taking strong sedatives after former gold medal swimmer Grant Hackett said he had become reliant on Stilnox.
The 400 or so athletes heading to London could have their rooms searched and face punishment, including possible expulsion if found to be in breach of the ban, Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates said.
“We have decided to amend our team medical manual to make it absolutely unequivocal that we prohibit the use of Stilnox and other related drugs,” he told a news conference yesterday.
“If, in extreme circumstances, they still need to be prescribed drugs, there is a short-acting drug temazepam, which does not have the same addictive and hallucinatory effects as zolpidem.”
He added: “We are very worried about the vicious cycle of athletes taking caffeine as a performance enhancer and then needing to take drugs such as Stilnox to get to sleep.”
Hackett won the 1,500m freestyle gold at the Sydney and Athens Games but came up short of a third successive title in Beijing four years ago. In an interview with the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper last weekend, the 32-year-old said he had been prescribed Stilnox, which is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, to battle insomnia and described it as “evil”.