Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom's Olympic experience came to an unexpected and nightmarish end on Sunday when he was held out of Sweden's 3-0 gold-medal loss to Canada after he tested positive for a banned substance found in an over-the-counter allergy medication.
Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski was the first to report that Backstrom was not in the lineup after he was informed two hours before puck drop that he failed a doping test originally administered on Feb. 19 following Sweden's quarterfinal victory against Slovenia.
"I want to say I have absolutely nothing to hide; I have allergy problems," Backstrom told reporters during a postgame press conference. "I've taken Zyrtec-D for many years. It was a little shocking to me, to be honest with you, but at the same time I am here right now and I've got to deal with it."
Zyrtec-D contains pseudoephedrine, which at levels greater than 150 micrograms per milliliter is considered a banned substance by the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency. Backstrom's level was at 190.
The NHL, however, does not recognize it as such and Backstrom's playing status with the Capitals should not be affected by the ruling.
"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 also released a statement, saying that the medicine, which Backstrom has taken intermittently for seven years, was approved by the Swedish national team and that "it is not anticipated that this will impact his participation in NHL games."
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