4 Jul 2012

Australia under fire for sleeping pill ban

4:31 pm on 4 July 2012

Australia's Olympic champion shooter Russell Mark has slammed his country's decision to ban strong sleeping pills, which he says could cost the country medals at the London Games.

The Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates announced the ban in the wake of former Olympic swimming champion Grant Hackett's claim that he had become dependent on Stilnox, a brand of the medication zolpidem.

Mark, who won gold in the double trap at the 1996 Olympics and will be taking part in his sixth Games in London, said he had used sleeping pills, which are not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, throughout his career.

Particularly given the long distance Australian athletes had to travel to London and the jet-lag that went with it, Mark said it would be unfair for Olympic team members like himself to suffer for Hackett's dependence.

Mark says the ban will affect the amount of medals the team wins.