SOCHI, Russia — Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom failed a doping test for a substance found in an allergy medication and was withdrawn from Sunday's hockey final at the Sochi Olympics.
“I got the message two hours before the game that something was wrong,” Sweden coach Par Marts said after his team lost 3-0 to Canada in the gold medal game.
Backstrom, who plays for the Washington Capitals in the NHL, was scratched just before the game began.
“I was very sad and obviously ... I felt bad for the guys, lots of guys were in the locker room when they called me out,” said Backstrom, who watched the game on TV.
Marts criticized the International Olympic Committee's timing, telling reporters Backstrom was tested in connection with Sweden's game against Slovenia, but that he was told only 20 minutes before the final that Backstrom couldn't play.
“I think it sucks,” Marts said. “It's like kindergarten.”
Asked about Merts criticism of the doping process, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, “We will not comment on any potential process until it has concluded.”
Backstrom was listed in the lineups distributed before the game, and forward Daniel Alfredsson said the team was told he wouldn't play just before it started.
“It's too bad he couldn't play,” Sweden winger Carl Hagelin said. “We lost a really good player.”
Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Bjorn Folin said the banned substance was in an allergy medication that Backstrom has taken for the past seven years.
Backstrom is the sixth athlete to fail a doping test at the games. Five of the six, including Backstrom, tested positive for minor stimulants that are often found in food supplements.
Several of Backstrom's teammates declined to comment on his positive test, with Hagelin saying only that he thinks “it's a bit strange.”
Backstrom will not face punishment from the NHL, because the substance in question “is neither prohibited in the NHL nor was used in an improper manner here,” according to an NHL press release.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson and Associated Press writers Karl Ritter in Sochi and Malin Rising in Stockholm contributed to this report.