Nicklas Backstrom tests positive

Updated: February 23, 2014, 3:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SOCHI, Russia -- Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom failed a doping test at the Sochi Games, testing positive for a substance found in an allergy medication, a spokesman for the country's Olympic Committee said Sunday.

"I got the message 2 hours before the game that something was wrong," Sweden coach Par Marts after his team lost 3-0 to Canada in the gold-medal game.

Backstrom, who plays for the Washington Capitals in the NHL, was scratched just before the game began.

"I was very sad and obviously ... I felt bad for the guys, lots of guys were in the locker room when they called me out," said Backstrom, who watched the game on TV.

Marts criticized the International Olympic Committee's timing, telling reporters Backstrom was tested in connection with Sweden's game against Slovenia, but that he was told only 20 minutes before the final that Backstrom couldn't play.

"I think it sucks," Marts said. "It's like kindergarten."

Asked about Merts' criticism of the doping process, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, "We will not comment on any potential process until it has concluded."

Backstrom was listed in the lineups distributed before the game, and forward Daniel Alfredsson said the team was told he wouldn't play just before it started.

"It's too bad he couldn't play," said Sweden winger Carl Hagelin. "We lost a really good player."

The failed test won't affect Sweden's silver medal. Violations from two or more team members need to occur before disqualification or other disciplinary action would take place, according to the IOC rules document.

"It was a shocking message to get," goalie Jhonas Enroth told the Swedish news agency TT after the final.

[+] EnlargeNicklas Backstrom
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesSweden's Nicklas Backstrom didn't play in the gold-medal game after failing a doping test.

Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Bjorn Folin said the banned substance was in an allergy medication that Backstrom has taken for the past seven years.

It is unlikely that Backstrom will face any discipline from the NHL.

"We understand that Nicklas Backstrom tested positive for a substance banned 'in competition' by the International Olympic Committee," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "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."

The Capitals acknowledged in a statement of their own that Backstrom was taking the medication this season while playing for Washington.

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

Backstrom is the sixth athlete to fail a doping test at the Games. Five of the six, including Backstrom, tested positive for minor stimulants that are often found in food supplements.

Several of Backstrom's teammates declined to comment on his positive test after the loss to Canada, with Hagelin saying only that he thinks "it's a bit strange."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


ALSO SEE