SOCHI, Russia – Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was pulled from the Swedish lineup just before the gold medal game against Canada because he failed a doping test for taking the medicine Zyrtec-D to treat his sinusitis.
Swedish officials confirmed this at a news conference after Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 in the championship game.
"Our opinion is that the IOC destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history," said Team Sweden general manager Tommy Boustedt.
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Team Doctor Bjorn Waldeback said Zyrtec-D, which contains pseudoephedrine, is a permitted drug at a certain level, and Backstrom has taken the medication for "several years."
Levels are allowed at 150 micro-grams per milliliter and Backstrom tested at 190.
"Nicklas Backstrom and I were at doping control and we told him he takes this one pill every day," Waldeback said.
Said Mark Aubry, the chief medical officer for the International Ice Hockey Federation: "He is an innocent victim of circumstances."
An upset Backstrom said he had nothing to hide.
"I feel like I haven't done anything differently than the last seven years and I've been playing internationally for the last seven years and lots of games and haven't seen this before," he said.
NHL Players Association official Mathieu Schneider called the process "flawed" because Backstrom had been tested on Wednesday and then pulled so close to a game.
Schneider said that Slovakia's Lubomir Visnovsky tested positive in 2010 and was cleared after a retest and allowed to play. Timing didn't allow that this time.
"It's clear that he wasn't intending to cheat, that he wasn't doping," Schneider said. "Doping is a very serious allegation, but at some point common sense should have prevailed, and it clearly did not."
Boustedt said he was called at 1:30 p.m. local time and informed that Backstrom was summoned to a 2 p.m. hearing. Backstrom was already warming up for a 4 p.m. game time.
"It sucks. It's like kindergarten," said Swedish coach Par Marts. "I think you have to have the right conditions to compete against Canada and we didn't have that."
That left Sweden, already missing injured center Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg, without their top remaining center.
Swedish player Gabriel Landeskog said he didn't even know Backstrom wasn't playing until he realized he wasn't getting dressed.
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"It's not the optimum situation," said Swedish defenseman Henrik Tallinder. "He is a great hockey player, so of course it's a big loss before the game."
The NHL said the test wouldn't affect Backstrom's ability to play in the NHL because the substance isn't on the league banned list.
Said Schneider: "We're certainly going to be looking into this and find out what went wrong in the process and where we can make a difference."