Olympics notes: Doping test costs Sweden

Backstrom kept out of title game

Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom failed a doping test for a substance found in an allergy medication.
Brian Snyder/Reuters
Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom failed a doping test for a substance found in an allergy medication.

Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom watched from the athletes’ village as his teammates lost to Canada in Sunday’s Olympic hockey gold-medal game because he failed a doping test for a substance found in an allergy medication.

‘‘I was ready to play the biggest game of my career,’’ Backstrom said after the Canadians beat the Swedes, 3-0. ‘‘And two and a half hours before the game, I got pulled aside.’’

Backstrom paused, choked with emotion, and appeared to be on the verge of tears.


‘‘It’s sad,’’ he said.

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The Swedish hockey team, meanwhile, was simply mad at the International Olympic Committee.

‘‘We are all very upset,’’ said Tommy Boustedt, the team’s general manager. ‘‘Our opinion is that IOC has destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history.’’

Boustedt lashed out at the IOC about the timing of its decision, saying it was ‘‘political’’ because it would make news.

The International Ice Hockey Federation is taking the silver medal that would have been given to Backstrom in the postgame ceremony to its offices in Zurich while it waits for the IOC to decide whether it can be sent to Backstrom, according to IIHF spokesman Adam Steiss.


Backstrom said he hasn’t hid the fact that he takes pseudoephedrine, the substance that is banned by the IOC during competition, and was told by his Olympic team doctor he could take one pill a day without possible penalty.

He was tested on Wednesday after helping the Swedes beat Slovenia in the quarterfinals.

The Washington Capitals standout was supported by his Olympic team, NHL franchise, NHL Players’ Association, and the IIHF.

Duerr admits to EPO

Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr was kicked out of the Sochi Games on Sunday after testing positive for the blood booster EPO. It is the most serious doping case so far at these Olympics.

Duerr finished eighth in the men’s skiathlon Feb. 9 and was tested seven days later in Austria, where he had flown back for training. He returned to Sochi and was to compete in the 50-kilometer mass start Sunday, the final cross-country event. At the airport in Sochi, Duerr admitted to using EPO and was remorseful. He told Austrian TV he can ‘‘only apologize to everyone.’’


At the midpoint of the Games, not yet marred by a single case of doping, the IOC’s top medical official said its efforts to catch drug cheats were so successful they had scared them all away. With six doping cases through Sunday, IOC president Thomas Bach cited the positive tests as the sign of success.

‘‘The number of the cases for me is not really relevant,’’ Bach said. ‘‘What is important is that we see the system works.’’

During the course of the Olympics, Bach said Sunday, more than 2,631 athlete samples were analyzed for doping. It wasn’t until the final few days of the games that any came back positive, although it’s possible more could be announced in the next few days.

Five of the six cases tested positive for minor stimulants that are often found in food supplements and result in lesser sanctions.

‘‘When you look at the substances taken, most of them stimulants, which have been detected, then look at the quantities, you see how far advanced the analysis is,’’ Bach said.

Appeal dismissed

The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed an appeal by Canada and Slovenia that tried to disqualify France after it swept the men’s ski cross race at the Olympics. The Canadians and Slovenes had accused the French team of changing the shape of the athletes’ ski pants for better aerodynamics. Rules prohibit uniform alterations for such purposes.