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Hackett battled sleeping pill use

Hackett battled sleeping pill use

Sun July 1, 2012 12:00am

MULTIPLE Olympic champion Grant Hackett battled a "heavy reliance" on the controversial sleeping pill Stilnox towards the end of his glittering swimming career, an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

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The besieged Hackett, who is battling to salvage his reputation following his ugly split from wife Candice Alley, began using the pills when they were administered to him by swimming officials during meets, including the Olympic Games.

Hackett was fragile, but very honest, when he openly admitted to The Sunday Telegraph yesterday he was given Stilnox by officials and overused them, adding it was always under the supervision of a team doctor or a general practitioner.

"At one point they scared me. They're evil," Hackett said.

"It has been a difficult and stressful few weeks. Given the timing of your enquiry I urge you to be responsible with the story and respectful of the circumstances."

Hackett was battling a shoulder injury from 2006 onwards and was continuing gruelling training sessions comprising 16km a day in the pool on the Gold Coast. He had problems sleeping and took Stilnox over a "longer than usual period", as well as receiving treatment through natural remedies.

He was under the supervision of his GP, a Gold Coast doctor who doubles as a "sleep guru" and has lectured on the topic around the world, Dr Gerry Flynn.

Former head coach of the Australian Olympic Team Alan Thompson, who headed the team from 2005 to 2010 and was in charge in Beijing, confirmed swimmers were administered Stilnox after The Sunday Telegraph's investigation learnt of their widespread use.Mr Thompson said he "inherited" the practice, and was not a fan of their use.

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