Stilnox and the Olympics: Just Hackett, Grant
The AOC's John Coates (Image: ABC)
John Coates doesn’t like to be called a ‘veteran’, but that’s what he is. London will be the tenth Olympics he has been involved in, and controversy has started early for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Nestled behind a sea of microphones yesterday, he looked very much like a man who had done this all before.
That is, until we heard something from the AOC chief’s mouth which is very rare from a sporting executive.
“If this has become a bigger problem due to my failure to recognise it, then I’ll take the rap.”
Stop and think how many times you have heard that before, from anyone.
What he was taking the blame for is Stilnox – specifically, the apparent widespread use of the sleeping drug among athletes during big meets.
It’s claimed athletes across many sports have been prescribed the drug as far back as the 2003 swimming World Championships by team doctors concerned at their inability to sleep.
The drug has since been found to cause hallucinations, sleepwalking and ultimately addiction.
Coates and the AOC have now banned it at the London games, and will conduct searches of athletes quarters if they have sufficient reason to believe it’s being used.
This is all fair. If the drug is causing addiction, then take it off the list.
It has been replaced by a less powerful drug, Temazepam, that won’t cause these side effects. But while the conclusion of this issue may be positive in the long term, the way it came to light is a disgrace.
Grant Hackett has been in damage control mode.
It’s a sad story: the drunken rampage, the wrecked apartment, the lies calling it all a ‘misunderstanding’, the suggestions of anger management issues, the divorce.. it makes for tough reading when it happens to anyone, but especially a celebrated Olympian.. one who has made a living from his cleanskin image. It’s all very Tiger Woods-esque.
Hackett is in damage control mode in a big way. He may not be competing, but he has big deals on the line, including with Channel Nine.
But, instead of coming out and admitting he has been a bit wayward and getting on with dealing with the consequences of his actions, Hackett has dragged up a ‘heavy reliance’ on a drug, effectively shifting the focus and the blame, and all this just weeks away from the Games.
Our athletes – quietly striving for Olympic glory – are getting caught in the net.
Hackett’s headline grabbing ahead of the London Games, and causing a ripple effect that draws in all 410 athletes on the team, is selfish. The media focus that Coates and the AOC have endured, the apologies and the grovelling required to get through it, can only cause disruption to a group of athletes in the midst of the most crucial part of a four year buildup.
His actions have suddenly become the AOC’s problem, and right now, the AOC’s only problem should be looking after our Olympic athletes – you know, the ones that are actually competing
- 2012 London Olympics