Grant Hackett’s former coach says the Olympic swimming champion’s Stilnox addiction is the price he paid for his success in the pool.
Hackett’s long-time mentor Denis Cotterell says the triple Olympic gold medallist was given the sleeping medication by team officials who didn’t tell him it was addictive until he’d been taking it for years.
Cotterell said Hackett was given Stilnox by team staff throughout his career, which included a decade-long unbeaten 1500m freestyle run, to aid sleep on long team flights and on the eve of a big race.
Cotterell said staff only told them it was addictive years after first offering it.
“Unfortunately being on those teams so long probably deepened the addiction,” he said.
Being on those teams so long probably deepened the addiction
Asked if the addiction was the price Hackett paid for his success, Cotterell said: “Absolutely.
“We would go on a plane and the doctor gave us some because he couldn’t go to sleep.
“He started doing that every meet. And when you are on the team for 12 years, and you are winning, you don’t change too much.
“Then all of a sudden they turn around and say ‘by the way it is addictive’.”
Cotterell claimed Hackett never “played” with Stilnox, saying his case was different to the Australian 4x100m freestyle relay squad, which was involved in a controversial pre-London Olympics “bonding session”.
He said he had not yet spoken to Hackett since his charge left rehab after seeking treatment in the United States five weeks ago.
Hackett sought treatment in the US after making headlines on February 22 for being photographed partially nude in the early hours of the morning at Melbourne’s Crown hotel, searching for his four-year-old son.
But Cotterell believed Hackett would always be remembered for his swimming greatness.
“Ultimately history will put a bit of balance on things,” he said.
“Whatever has happened will never take away the status he holds in swimming.”
Hackett spoke about his rehab experience for the first time at Los Angeles Airport on Wednesday.
“It just gets to a situation in life where you’re not coping too well, and you need to put your hand up and ask for help. I certainly got to that situation,” he told the Nine Network.
“I feel proud of myself that I had the strength and courage to do that, because I want to have a great and happy life ahead of me.
“I want to be a great father and I want to do all those things properly.
“Certainly what I’ve learnt over the past five weeks has put me in a position to do all those things a lot better.”