Aussie ath­letes face sleep­ing drug ban and bag searches if go­ing to Rio

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralia’s Olympic ath­letes must agree to hav­ing their bags and other pos­ses­sions searched by team of­fi­cials who Fri­day in­tro­duced a new ban on sleep­ing drugs from the day they are se­lected for Rio.

The hard-line stance comes in the wake of swimming great Grant Hack­ett seek­ing treat­ment last year for ad­dic­tion to the pre­scrip­tion drug zolpi­dem, sold as Stil­nox in Aus­tralia.

Mem­bers of the na­tion’s swim team also came un­der scru­tiny at the 2012 Lon­don Olympics af­ter some took the sleep­ing tablet at a pre-Games camp.

The Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee ( AOC) in­tro­duced a ban on “cer­tain hyp­notic med­i­ca­tions,” in­clud­ing Stil­nox, three weeks be­fore the Lon­don Olympics, but have de­cided to tighten the rules even fur­ther.

“First and fore­most we banned Stil­nox be­fore the Lon­don Games be­cause of se­ri­ous con­cerns for the wel­fare of the ath­letes,” said AOC chief ex­ec­u­tive Fiona de Jong.

“We felt then we had an obli­ga­tion to pro­tect our ath­letes from se­ri­ous harm and that re­mains our pri­or­ity to­day.

“By in­tro­duc­ing the ban from the date of se­lec­tion we are giv­ing any ath­lete tak­ing hyp­notic med­i­ca­tions time to wean them­selves off the drug long be­fore they en­ter the (ath­lete) vil­lage in Rio (in 2016).”

Stil­nox is a seda­tive-hyp­notic drug used to treat in­som­nia, with ath­letes some­times pre­vi­ously pre­scribed it if they were hav­ing trou­ble sleep­ing be­fore big events.

Ath­letes have ad­mit­ted it was also oc­ca­sion­ally used as a sub­sti­tute for al­co­hol that was once tra­di­tion­ally con­sumed at team­bond­ing ses­sions.

All those se­lected for Rio must agree to the ban and sign a doc­u­ment per­mit­ting team of­fi­cials to search their bags or other pos­ses­sions in the Olympic vil­lage.

“It in­cludes the right to seize any sus­pi­cious sub­stance they might find and have that sub­stance an­a­lyzed and in­ves­ti­gated,” the AOC said.

If they do not agree, ath­letes could be ex­pelled from the team and deemed in­el­i­gi­ble for fu­ture Olympics.

The ban cov­ers med­i­ca­tions in­clud­ing zolpi­dem, which is found in Stil­nox and is sold as Am­bien in the U.S. and else­where; ni­trazepam, con­tained in the brand name Mo­gadon; and flu­ni­trazepam, found in the brand name Ro­hyp­nol.

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