Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 in the gold medal game at the Winter Olympics on Sunday, and it didn’t help the Swedes that they were forced to play without Nicklas Backstrom. The Washington Capitals forward was a late scratch before the game after he reportedly failed a drug test.
According to Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports, Backstrom violated the IOC’s anti-doping rules when he tested positive for a banned substance. The failed test was reportedly triggered by a substance called pseudoephedrine, which is a common ingredient in allergy medications like Claritin.
Bjorn Folin, a spokesman for the Swedish Olympic Committee, told the AP that Backstrom tested positive for a banned substance that is found in an allergy medication he has been taking for years. Backstrom was tested on Friday and pulled from the locker room before the team’s pregame skate on Sunday.
“I got the message two hours before the game, that there was something wrong,” Sweden coach Par Marts said. “Then I knew when the warmups are starting that he wasn’t going to play.”
Backstrom was the center on Sweden’s first line, so his loss was obviously significant. While there’s no way of knowing if his presence would have given Sweden a chance to beat Canada, you have to assume it hurt the team both physically and emotionally.
“It sucks. It’s like kindergarten,” Marts said. “I can not ice the best team today. We should have the right conditions to compete with Canada and we didn’t have that today.”
Each team is responsible for being familiar with the IOC and World Anti-Doping Federation’s regulations. If a banned substance is present in something as common as allergy medication, you would think the players would know. It’s a shame that Sweden was penalized before such a crucial game.