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Nicklas Backstrom to be awarded silver medal by IOC

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Nicklas Backstrom (right) will get his silver medal. (USATSI)
Nicklas Backstrom (right) will get his silver medal. (USATSI)

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Nicklas Backstrom's Olympic experience had the worst kind of ending. Instead of competing for his native Sweden in the gold-medal game against Canada, Backstrom was left on the sidelines after testing positive for the presence of pseudoephedrine above the levels allowed for competition.

The positive test, which is believed to have been triggered by allergy medication Zyrtec-D, disqualified Backstrom from further participation in the Olympics, leaving him unavailable for the gold medal game and ineligible to receive a medal. His absence put Sweden in quite a hole, having already been without Henrik Sedin, who could not travel to the Olympics, and Henrik Zetterberg, who left after one game.

Sweden fell to Canada 3-0 in the final and had to settle for the silver medal. Backstrom's disqualification was the source of great controversy in the aftermath of the decision for obvious reasons.

Friday, the IOC announced its decision to award Backstrom the silver medal his team earned at the Olympic Winter Games, despite the positive test.

The IOC DC took into account in particular that the athlete had been cooperative, had disclosed the medication in question in the doping control form and had relied on the specific advice of his team doctor that the intake of the medication would not give rise to an adverse analytical finding. There was also no indication of any intent of the athlete to improve his performance by taking a prohibited substance. Based upon these mitigating circumstances, the IOC DC considered that the athlete should be entitled to receive the silver medal and diploma awarded for men's ice hockey.

So it's a good news, bad news situation for Backstrom. The good news is he gets the hardware he earned. The bad news is, the IOC can't really alter what already happened, which is Backstrom being removed from the biggest game of his life. It was confirmed by the IOC that the right decision had been made in suspending Backstrom at the time, which by the letter of the rule, it was.

The IOC actually put significant blame on Sweden's team doctor for the positive test and noted in its full decision that he may not be accredited for future competition.

Due to the cooperation of Backstrom and the error of Sweden's team doctor, he'll have his medal. Unfortunately, it might only be a painful reminder of a lost opportunity for a most unfortunate and easy-to-make mistake.

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