Hackett heads to U.S. to treat drug addiction: manager

Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:44pm EST
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian swimming great Grant Hackett has flown to the United States to have treatment for an addiction to a sleeping medication, his manager told local media.

Hackett, who won 1,500 meters freestyle gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, created headlines Down Under this week after being found topless and disoriented at Melbourne's Crown Casino early on Saturday morning.

"Grant is currently in transit to seek treatment for a dependency to Stilnox medication," his manager Chris White told News Ltd media.

"His family and friends are enormously proud of his courage in pursuing this course of action."

Hackett publicly admitted to a dependency to Stilnox in the leadup to the 2012 London Games, prompting the Australian Olympic Committee to ban athletes from using it.

The 33-year-old touched down in Los Angeles on Tuesday but denied he was entering a rehabilitation clinic.

"No, not as such ... I'm just going away for a break and looking forward to enjoying myself," he told reporters at the airport.

"It's a bit of an exaggeration ... I'm not calling this rehab whatsoever. This is a retreat to get away for a while, to recharge the batteries which I've been planning for some time."

Hackett's father said his son was in "a little bit of denial."   Continued...

Grant Hackett of Australia holds his silver medal for the men's 1500m freestyle swimming final at the National Aquatics Center during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach