Sleeping pills have been banned by the Australian Olympic Committee following former Olympic swimmer Grant Hackett’s admission that he used such medications while he was competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. According to AOC chief John Coates, this will be the first time such a ban has been put into place for its athletes.
“Our overriding obligation is to protect the health of our athletes,” Coates said at a news conference in Sydney. “This was only really brought to my attention when I read Grant Hackett’s revelations. If I’m to blame for not having got on top of this earlier and not having understood it better earlier, I accept that blame.”
“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,” he added.
In order to circumvent the need for sleeping pills, Coates said that Olympic hopefuls have been taught a series of alternative relaxing techniques if the stress of the games prove to be too much to handle. However, should the need arrive, competitors will be able to take the drug Temazepam for no longer than three days.
In addition to the ban, the Australian Olympic Committee said that it would amend their medical manuals in order to make it clear that the organization does not condone the use of Stilnox, which is marketed as Ambien in the United States.