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Magnussen: Why swimmers use Stilnox

James Magnussen.

James Magnussen has told how intense competition in the pool led him to use the controversial sleeping drug Stilnox in the lead up to the London Olympics in 2012.

Magnussen, 22, told a Sydney newspaper that he had difficulty becoming friends with his teammates when he had competed against them during the year and that Stilnox helped break down some of the barriers and form a team bond, in much the way that other sports use alcohol.

Stilnox is the drug reportedly at the centre of controversial rehabilitation treatment for other former Australian swimmers Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe.

He said that he and his fellow 100 metre 4 x 4 relay team members used the drug at a team bonding session in England before the games.

”It wasn’t for sleep in that instance,” he said. ”It was, as it was reported at the time, an attempt at bonding and it, yeah … it went wrong. It’s really tough in a sport like swimming because the only times we come together as an Australian team is in the lead-up to big events and alcohol affects performance, so that’s not really an option for the swim team.

”I am sure there are other options [for bonding] that the team management is looking into because it is a hard sport to bring a team together when we spend most of the year racing against each other.

”We have to beat each other to get on to the team and then we have to be friends again – it’s a tough dynamic. Coming up as a young swimmer you know you have ‘X’ amount of people in front of you and you need to pick them off one-by-one.

”Once you get there you have to go back, be mates with them and swim in a relay alongside them against the best in the world.”

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