The use of sleeping pills by Australian athletes, in many sports, has been an issue for quite some time. In 2012 the Australian Olympic Committee banned the use of sleeping pills, such as Stilnox, at the Olympic Games and today Swimming Australia put a blanket ban on the prescription drug.
In an article on news.com.au it was reported that sleeping pills would be banned by the organization, but Stilnox was the only specific drug mentioned.
Stilnox is the drug that has gotten the most press over the last few years. In swimming the drug first gained notoriety when Grant Hackett, who developed a reliance on the drug, admitted he used it to help him sleep during intense competition.
Then came what has been dubbed the ‘Stilnox Six’, which is when six members of the men’s Olympic 4 x 100 freestyle relay team; James Magnussen, James Roberts, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, Tommaso D’Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy, used the drug as a substitute for alcohol to help their team bond before the London Olympics.
The drug has also been used heavily by rugby players, a sport that will now be testing for the prescription drug.
If there is suspicion that a swimmer is using the drug they will have to submit to bag and room checks, but since Stilnox is not outlawed by the World Anti-Doping Agency or the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Swimming Australia will not be testing for the drug.
If any swimmer is found to be using the substance they will face a suspension and be fined a significant amount.
In an effort to prevent athlete’s feeling the need to take such drugs to get a proper night’s sleep Swimming Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport have started a study which focuses on elite swimmer’s sleep hygiene. They will be looking at several factors such as the number of hours of sleep, time on electronic devices before sleep and the ambience of the room.
“We’re doing some work with the AIS around the role of sleep within an athlete’s performance, how we can get our athletes into an optimum environment, and sleep being a critical part of that,’’ Swimming Australia’s CEO Mark Anderson told news.com.au.