Australian athletes handed sedatives ban
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia has banned its athletes at the London Games from taking strong sedatives after former Olympic champion swimmer Grant Hackett said he had become reliant on Stilnox, a brand of the medication zolpidem.
The 400 or so athletes heading to London could have their rooms searched and face punishment up to and including expulsion if found to be in breach of the ban, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief John Coates told reporters on Tuesday.
"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.
"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."
Coates also said the AOC would be "better highlighting" advice with regard to the use of caffeine.
"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 said.
"We've done all this because our overriding obligation is to protect the health of our athletes."
Hackett won the 1,500 meters freestyle gold at the Sydney and Athens Olympics but came up just short of a third successive title in Beijing four years ago. Continued...