- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 23, 2014

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will face no further sanctions from the NHL after testing positive for a substance banned by the International Olympic Committee during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The NHL has no ban on Zyrtec-D, the allergy medicine found in Backstrom’s system after a drug test on Wednesday following Sweden’s quarterfinal win over Slovenia. But Backstrom has already paid a stiff price. He was informed just two-and-a-half hours before the gold-medal game against Canada on Sunday that he couldn’t play. The Swedes lost 3-0.

In Washington, even Backstrom’s Canadian teammates, happy for their own country’s success, felt his pain.

“Playing for your country in a gold-medal game, that is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime shot,” Caps forward Brooks Laich told reporters after a Sunday morning practice at Kettler Iceplex. “He’s still young, but that might be the only chance that he ever gets to play in an Olympic gold-medal game. I don’t know the circumstances, but really unfortunate break for him. He’s a great kid and I don’t think he deserved it.”

Backstrom, 26, tested above the IOC’s allowable level of 150 milligrams for Zyrtec-D, which he told reporters in Sochi he has taken for seven years. Swedish coaches and officials were publicly critical of the IOC’s penalty and testing measures.

“It’s a blunder. It’s an innocent blunder. It’s still a blunder,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. “When we have mistakes in our league, that summer the [general managers] all meet and they try and fix it for the next time. To me this seems like one that the IOC will have to try to address for the next time because it’s not fair to the athletes. It’s not. To me it’s not fair to [Backstrom].”