Swedish Olympic Hockey Screwup
The Olympic games from Sochi ended on a sour note for all Swedish hockey fans. Not only were the Swedes pretty poor in the final against Canada, and if it wasn’t for Henrik Lundqvist it could have been more than just 3-0 to the Canadians, but just 20 minutes prior to the game the team was informed that center Nicklas Bäckström had been suspended for doping.
Bäckström tested positive for a substance that is in his allergy medicine. The substance is not on the NHL’s list over banned substances, but it is on the list over banned substances that WADA (World Anti-Aoping Agency) provided for the Olympics. Bäckström checked with the Swedish team doctor prior to taking his pills (Bäckström has been eating allergy medicine since the age of 7) and was given the all clear. This was a huge mistake by the doctor and by Bäckström and it cost him a chance to play in the final and possibly a silver medal.
I don’t think that Sweden would have won the game with Bäckström on the ice, that chance disappeared when Henrik Zetterberg got injured, but it surely would have helped the Swedes to have him in the lineup. There is no shame in losing to Canada in the final, and a silver is a great achievement for the Swedes seeing that they were without Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzén.
But the incompetence shown by the doctor in the case of Bäckström shifted focus from the play on the ice and put a sour taste in the mouths of hockey fans all over. Bäckström wasn’t looking for an advantage, he was just taking medicine to cope with his allergies, but rules are rules and I fully back the decision to suspend him and I wouldn’t give him a silver medal. He broke the rules and have to live with the consequences.
I also think that WADA could have done a better job in analyzing Bäckström’s test and given the results in a timely manner. He was tested after the game against Slovenia (Wednesday) and even though a test usually takes 24-48 hours, the test results weren’t given until Sunday just prior to the game. So WADA deserves some flak for this situation as well, and I can understand that the Swedish camp was angry with the way it had been handled.
But in the end, the Swedish team and the fans should look back at a successful Olympic Games in Sochi earning 15 medals (2 golds, 7 silvers and 6 bronzes).