WADA appealing decision to clear Sweden's Nicklas Backstrom
The World Anti-Doping Agency is appealing the decision to clear Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom of wrongdoing after a failed drug test at this year's Winter Olympics, the organization confirmed to TheHockeyNews.com.
Backstrom failed the test while playing for Team Sweden at the Sochi Olympics because he tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a substance found in Zyrtec-D, an allergy medicine Backstrom had taken for several years.
“The decision to exonerate the athlete was recently appealed by WADA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” WADA’s senior manager of media relations and communications Ben Nichols wrote in an email to thn.com. “As with all pending cases, and adhering to the proper and normal respect for the integrity of the legal process, WADA will refrain from commenting on the subject until the appeal has been completed and a decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
Backstrom declined comment about WADA's appeal on Tuesday, saying "I don't really have anything to say about it," according to the Washington Post.
Backstrom found out about the failed drug test shortly before Sweden's Feb. 23 gold-medal game loss to Canada, from which he was banned as a result. At the time, the NHL said the substance Backstrom tested positive for wasn't on the league's list of banned substances.
The following month, the International Olympic Committee cleared Backstrom and awarded him a silver medal. While it defended the suspension, the IOC ruled that the center didn't intend to enhance his performance and instead blamed Sweden's doctor for not properly informing Backstrom that taking the medication would result in a banned test.
Backstrom had disclosed his use of Zyrtec-D to Olympic officials before being tested.
It's unclear if Backstrom would be forced to return his silver medal upon a successful appeal or if WADA is seeking any other specific sanction.
Backstrom, 26, appeared in five games for Sweden at Sochi, tallying four points. He had 79 points in 82 games for the Capitals last year and has 16 points in the team's 15 games so far this season, including a team-high 12 assists.
- Ben Estes