Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom drops appeal in Olympics doping case
Nearly a year later, Swedish hockey star Nicklas Backstrom reached a settlement Thursday in his fight against the positive drug test that kept him out of the Olympic final in Sochi.
The Washington Capitals center dropped his appeal against the International Olympic Committee ruling that he committed a doping violation. In return, he was issued with the minimum sanction of a reprimand and cleared of any intention to cheat.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, announced the settlement was reached "after constructive discussions" between Backstrom’s lawyers and the IOC, World Anti-Doping Agency, and International Ice Hockey Federation.
"Mr. Backstrom, WADA, the IOC and the IIHF are pleased that this matter has now been concluded and wish to clarify that at no time was Mr. Backstrom’s receipt of his Olympic silver medal at issue in the proceedings," CAS said.
Backstrom tested positive for pseudoephedrine after Sweden’s win over Slovenia in the Olympic quarterfinals on Feb. 19, 2014. He said the stimulant was contained in a sinus medication he had been taking for allergies.
An IOC disciplinary panel in Sochi ruled that Backstrom committed a doping violation. He was suspended and pulled from the Swedish team just hours before the Feb. 23 gold-medal game, which Sweden lost 3-0 to Canada.
The Swedes were outraged by the timing of the decision, and said it affected the team’s performance.
A few weeks after the Olympics, the IOC ruled that Backstrom hadn’t intended to enhance his performance, laying the blame for his positive test on the Sweden team doctor. Backstrom was allowed to receive the silver medal based on "mitigating circumstances."
Backstrom appealed in April to CAS, contending that no anti-doping rule violation occurred. WADA filed its own appeal to CAS in October, challenging the IIHF’s ruling that Backstrom had not violated the agency’s code and would face no further sanction.
CAS said Backstrom agreed to withdraw his appeal against the IOC finding that he violated doping rules. In turn, WADA, the IIHF and the player agreed he should receive only a reprimand — "the minimum applicable sanction permitted in the WADA code," CAS said.
"WADA, the IOC and the IIHF take this opportunity to state that there is no indication that Mr. Backstrom intended to enhance his sport performance by taking a prohibited substance," the statement said.
The substance was contained in a product Backstrom was taking for medical reasons, he relied on the advice of his team doctor that it would not produce a positive sample, and he disclosed the product on his doping control form, the CAS statement said.
Backstrom received his Olympic silver medal in a ceremony in Sweden on Aug. 28.