Hockey

Thomson Reuters - Sunday Feb. 23, 2014 07:15 ET

Sweden's Nicklas Backstrom tests positive for banned substance

Centre pulled from Olympics before gold medal hockey game

Nicklas Backstrom
Nicklas Backstrom #19 of Sweden skates against Latvia (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Nicklas Backstrom was scratched from Sweden's lineup for the men's gold medal hockey game after testing positing for a banned substance at the Sochi Olympics.

"I've got absolutely nothing to hide," Backstrom told reporters. "It was shocking to me and at the same time I'm here right now and I have to deal it.

"I haven't done anything differently in the past seven years and I've been playing internationally all that time.

"I was watching the game at the village. I was ready to play probably the biggest game of my career then two and a half hours before the game I get pulled aside. I was tested after the quarter-final against Slovakia."

Team doctor Bjoern Waldeback said the substance he tested positive for was pseudoephedrine, a stimulant, contained in a pill had been taking for many years.

"It's a permitted drug. We told them he had one pill per day as he has for past seven years," Waldeback said.

The withdrawal of one of Sweden's top players just before the game forced the Scandinavians to hastily rearrange their lineup and they were unable to mount a challenge against the defending Olympic champions.

Sweden lost to Canada 3-0, settling for silver.

Capitals defend Backstrom

The Washington Capitals issued a statement hours after the gold medal game.

"Nicklas Backstrom did not participate in Team Sweden’s Olympic gold-medal game on Sunday due to the allergy medication he has been taking intermittently for seven years, including this season while playing for the Washington Capitals to combat severe allergies.

"The medicine was approved by the Swedish national team. It is not anticipated that this will impact his participation in NHL games."

National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also provided a statement that basically exonerates Backstrom of any wrongdoing.

“We understand that Nicklas Backstrom tested positive for a substance banned ‘in competition’ by the International Olympic Committee. It is our further understanding that the positive test was the result of a common allergy medication taken by the player knowingly, with the approval of the team doctor and without the intention of gaining an illegal or improper performance-enhancing benefit. In addition, the specific substance that resulted in the positive test is not currently on the League’s Prohibited Substances List.

“Subject to confirmation of the facts as we understand them, and given the fact that the substance is neither prohibited in the NHL nor was used in an improper manner here, we do not anticipate there being any consequences relative to Nicklas’ eligibility to participate in games for the Washington Capitals.”

(With files from CBCOlympics)

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