The Australia Olympic Committee has already banned a few competitors from using Twitter during the Olympics, and now the AOC has banned sleeping pills.
The sleeping bills ban comes after ex-swimming star Grant Hackett admitted to using sedatives while he was competing.
Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates said:
“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. We’ve done this because our primary obligation, our overriding obligation, is to protect the health of our athletes.”
The AFP reports that Olympic officials will be able to search athletes if they are suspected of using sleeping pills. If an athlete is found with Stilnox (marketed as Ambien in the United States) they could face suspension.
According to Coates, former Olympic swimmer Grant Hackett was prescribed Stilnox in 2003 and continued taking the drug during the 2004 Athens Olympics. Hacket said that athletes took the medicine regularly during big meets to calm their nerves. Hackett also took sleeping pills during the 2008 Olympics. According to his former coach, Dennis Cotterell, Hackett’s dependence on Stilnox cost him the gold medal in Beijing.
“He couldn’t sleep so he took the Stilnox to settle his nerves. For sure that contributed to his lack of clarity in the 1500m final. I’ve got no doubts about that.”
Coates said that he didn’t realize sleeping pills were widely used by athletes until he read about Grant’s dependence on the drug.
“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.”