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Ex-USWNT star Solo: We had team doctors passing out anti-anxiety drugs like it was nothing

18:45 BST 11/08/2021
Hope Solo USWNT Olympics 08092016
The goalkeeper discussed the improvement in how athletes' mental health is viewed on All of US: The U.S. Women's Soccer Show for Goal

Former U.S. women's national team (USWNT) goalkeeper Hope Solo has revealed team doctors routinely passed out anti-anxiety drug Xanax during her time with the national team.

Solo played in three World Cups and three Olympics during her time with the USWNT, winning the World Cup once and two Olympic gold medals.

Speaking to Goal on the latest episode of All of US: The U.S. Women's Soccer Show, Solo touched on the current discussion over athletes' mental health and how the issue has been dealt with over time.

What was said?

"People are aware of the struggles and the pressures that athletes go through at the highest stage, so yeah absolutely," Solo replied when asked if the discussion over mental health was improving. "I think we have a long way to go in terms of actually understanding it, you know, we used to have doctors pass out Xanax like it was nothing.

"It was just part of the routine while we were overseas in China for the World Cup [in 2007]. Doctors knocking on your door, passing out anything to help you get sleep because of the nerves or because of the stress or because of the pressure.

"I mean these are normal-day affairs when it comes to Olympians so I don't think people have quite a clear understanding. We've been discussing this now for about five years and we have a ways to go, but there is acknowledgement and that's a start."

Solo praises Biles decision

The discussion over athletes' mental health has stemmed in large part from star American gymnast Simone Biles, who decided to pull out of the team gymnastics competition at the Olympics.

Biles cited her mental health as the reason she opted out of the team and individual all-around competition, before she later returned to compete on balance beam and won a bronze medal.

Solo said that what Biles did took true strength and praised her decision to prioritise her own well-being. 

"Sometimes it's really hard to keep that happy face on for the cameras," Solo said.

"That's what a lot of athletes are expected to do - like Simone Biles. She's America's sweetheart and she went out there and she said, 'You know what? I don't have it today.' That takes a lot of strength."

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