Nicklas Backstrom Couldn’t Play in the Gold Medal Hockey Game After Testing Positive for…Allergy Medication
Imagine you’re a hockey player about to compete for the chance to win an Olympic gold medal against the greatest hockey power in the world.
Now imagine that, two hours before said game, somebody comes into the locker room and says you can’t play the game because you took some allergy medicine. Given that you had just been robbed of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you would probably be somewhere in between distraught and livid, right?
Well, if you really want to know what that would feel like, you can ask Nicklas Backstrom. The star center of the Washington Capitals was about to play for Sweden in the gold medal hockey game against Canada when somebody from the IOC informed him that he couldn’t play because he tested positive for pseudophedrine.
Pseudophedrine, of course, is a common nasal medication found in numerous over-the-counter medications, including the allergy medication Zyrtec-D, which Backstrom has been taking on and off for seven years. It is not a banned substance by the NHL, and apparently Sweden’s team physician approved Backstrom’s use of Zyrtec-D. However, none of that mattered to the IOC. The kid tested positive, so he was out.
Of course, the worst part of this is not just that Backstrom was needlessly kicked out of the gold medal game. It’s the timing. Backstrom took the drug test in question last Wednesday, but an IOC disciplinary hearing only decided he had to be suspended on Sunday, right before the game. And that is just ridiculous.
To his credit, Backstrom, though shaken up, was pretty restrained in his remarks following the game:
“I want to say I have absolutely nothing to hide; I have allergy problems. 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. 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. I was very sad and obviously…I felt bad for the guys.”
Team Sweden general manager Tommy Boustedt and coach Par Marts were decidedly less diplomatic, though. Mars said the situation was handled “like kindergarten,” while Boustedt claimed “The IOC has destroyed one of the great days in Swedish hockey history.”
It’s hard to disagree with these guys, isn’t it? Obviously, the IOC needs to be tough on PEDs, but this isn’t being tough on PEDs. It’s being stupid.