Grant Hackett’s problems have provoked a lot of talk, much of which has done little to advance understanding of a complex issue.
Former Head swim coach, the highly respected Don Talbot, has entered the discussion with the suggestion that ALL drugs – legal and illegal – be banned.
You would need to go far to hear something as silly as this from an otherwise smart man.
Don argues that the only solution to athletes becoming addicted to medications being used as a coping mechanism is to ban all drugs.
So, one high profile athlete has a drug dependency means everyone must forgo the many excellent drugs that make them feel better when ill, sleep when they can’t, or treat on-going medical problems. Ridiculous.
Don might also suggest we ban motor cars because of their occasional irresponsible use. Worse than the idea itself is that it takes the attention away from the serious business of athletes being able to live their lives free of the need to resort to drugs as a coping mechanism.
Many questions remain unanswered in all of this and some are even yet to be asked, including: How does a person (athlete or not) with a known (mind-altering) drug problem get unsupervised access to his children?
Grant’s woes are not only related to Stillnox, but it is one drug which has caused him all kinds of problems (as it has others). We have seen the negative consequences of his use of the drug for some time, both as a swimmer and since his retirement.
His problem, however, is no different to that of any individual with dependency and abuse issues. You must determine what the underlying causes are – and address them.
The notion that athletes are unique is a false and dangerous premise. All kinds of occupations have inherent pressures.
Stillnox is a controversial drug and not for everyone but it is not the cause of Grant’s problems. It does the likeable champion no favours to place the responsibility anywhere other than where it should properly reside.