Looking back on Nicklas Backstrom’s performance enhancing drug scandal offers an intriguing topic for our next blog article.
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Rewind to 2014 at the Sochi Olympics, and Backstrom’s world came crashing down during Sweden’s run towards winning a silver medal when he failed a drug test. A regular sufferer of allergies, the Washington Capitals star was advised by the Swedish team doctor that he’d be okay to take a Zyrtec-D to help with his issues.
This proved to be an ill advised decision, however, for the pseudoephedrine contained in those pills saw him test positive ahead of the gold medal game against Canada, thus ruling him out of the showpiece that Sweden lost 3-0.
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Having used the medication for seven years prior to failing this test, Backstrom clearly wasn’t taking this to gain a competitive edge, but his honest mistake was certainly costly for him and his team. Considering this drug isn’t banned by the NHL, the World Anti Doping Agency saw things differently to his unfortunate detriment.
Although he was ultimately deemed the innocent victim of an avoidable mistake, the initial ruling was to ban him. Following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport, Backstrom was eventually handed a reprimand after settlement discussions, with them acknowledging that while he did commit an offence, it wasn’t to intentionally gain an advantage.
Upon reflecting back at this, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Backstrom, who obviously used the substance for a legitimate medical reason. But a failed drug is a failed drug test in the eyes of the testers, so it’s understandable why he was sanctioned initially.
Positively, Backstrom was awarded a silver medal for his part in his team’s run to the final, as common sense finally prevailed in this drawn out saga.