February 23 - Swedish ice hockey player Nicklas Bäckström was today prevented from playing in his side's Olympic final against Canada after testing positive for a banned substance as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were accused of "destroying" the event.
It is alleged that Bäckström tested positive for pseudoephedrine contained in an allergy medication that he claims to have been taking for seven years.
The 26-year-old, who plays for Washington Capitals in the National Hockey League (NHL), was told that he could not play in today's match against Canada at the Bolshoy Arena after having been originally named in the team announced to the public.
"It was a shocking message to get," goalkeeper Jhonas Enroth told the Swedish news agency TT after the final, which Canada won 3-0.
"We found out two hours before the match."
Bäckström was replaced in the line-up by Daniel Alfredsson, with Swedish officials claiming he had had dropped out because of a migraine.
The truth emerged only after the match.
Sweden's team doctor Bjorn Waldeback revealed Bäckström has been taking one pill a day for his allergies for a number of years, including during Vancouver 2010, and said he is "an innocent victim of circumstances."
Bäckström claimed he was tested three times heading into the Olympics.
"I have nothing to hide," he said.
Swedish coach Pär Mårts revealed the test had been carried out after Sweden's quarter-final victory against Slovakia on Wednesday (February 19).
He blasted the decision to prevent Bäckström from taking part in the final.
"It's a miscarriage of justice," he said.
"It sucks, it's like kindergarten.
"I think we should have the right conditions to compete against Canada."
Team Sweden general manager Tommy Boustedt also criticised the IOC for the decision to prevent Bäckström playing.
"Our opinion is that the IOC destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history," he said.
Bäckström is unlikely to face further sanctions from the NHL or his club.
Washington Capitals released a statement, in which they said "the medicine was approved by the Swedish national team.
"It is not anticipated that this will impact his participation in NHL games."
Bill Daly, the NHL Deputy Commissioner, confirmed that.
"We understand that Nicklas Bäckström tested positive for a substance banned 'in competition' by the International Olympic Committee," he said.
"It is our further understanding that the positive test was the result of a common allergy medication taken by the player knowingly, with the approval of the team doctor and without the intention of gaining an illegal or improper performance-enhancing benefit. In addition, the specific substance that resulted in the positive test is not currently on the League's Prohibited Substances List.
"Subject to confirmation of the facts as we understand them, and given the fact that the substance is neither prohibited in the NHL nor was used in an improper manner here, we do not anticipate there being any consequences relative to Nicklas' eligibility to participate in games for the Washington Capitals."
Bäckström is the sixth athlete to test positive at Sochi 2014.
Earlier Austrian skier Johannes Duerr was kicked out of the Games after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO).
Duerr had finished eighth in the men's skiathlon here on February 9 and was tested seven days later in Austria, where he had flown back for training.
He returned here and had been due to compete in the 50-kilometres mass start today, the final cross-country event.
"It is a black day for us," Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss said.
Duerr did not try to deny that he had taken EPO and admitted his guilt.
"So many people have been doing all they could to help me and now I've disappointed them with my silliness," he said at Sochi Airport on his way home.
"I am in a way glad it has come to an end...This is the worst thing I've done in my life.
"This is very, very tough.
"You can't explain this in three sentences."
The other four athletes to have tested here Latvian ice hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs, Ukrainian cross-country skier Marina Lisogor, German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian bobsledder William Frullani.
The number of athletes sanctioned for doping at Sochi 2014 is the highest at a Winter Olympics since Salt Lake City when seven athletes were either disqualified or punished, including two Austrian cross country skiers - Marc Mayer and Achim Walcher - for the possession of blood-transfusion equipment.
Of the athletes caught here none have been gold medallists, unlike in Salt Lake City when three athletes with a total of six gold medals failed tests and were stripped of their medals.
British skier Alain Baxter was also stripped of the bronze medal he won in the slalom at those Games after testing positive for pseudoephedrine, the same drug Bäckström has reportedly tested for.
IOC President Thomas Bach heralded the success of the drugs testing system at Sochi 2014.
"What is important is that we see the system works," he said at a final press conference just a few hours before the Closing Ceremony.
"When you look at the substances being taken, they are most of them stimulants which have been detected, and if you then look at the quantities you see how far advanced the analysis is and... that the system works.
"It shows that the IOC is serious with zero tolerance because the athletes, as far as the procedures have been concluded, have been disqualified from the Games regardless of the quantity of the substance and the quality of the substance, whether it was one of the substances where you would speak about aggravated circumstances or not."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
February 2014: Ukrainian and Latvian athletes latest to fail drugs test at Sochi 2014
February 2014: German biathlete and Italian bobsledder confirmed as first positive doping cases of Sochi 2014
February 2014: German athlete biathlete reportedly tests positive at Sochi 2014