WASHINGTON — Before the Washington Capitals went out to practice Tuesday, Nicklas Backstrom told his teammates that while he continues to deal with fallout from testing positive for a substance that is banned by the International Olympic Committee, he will do his best to make sure it doesn't cause a distraction for the group moving forward.
“I was talking to the guys today and I said, 'I'll deal with this on the side.' I think we have a really important situation here in Washington right now. We're not in a playoff spot and we have to look forward to that,” Backstrom said. “I'm focusing on Washington right now, how we have to deal with this as a team, how we have to win hockey games. That's what I'm going to do.”
That was easier said than done Tuesday, though, as many in Sweden and the international community are still looking to assign blame for the situation.
With several Swedish news outlets at KCI Tuesday, pressing for more details Backstrom reiterated that he has taken the allergy medication Zyrtec-D for seven years. While Zyrtec-D is an approved drug, it contains pseudoephedrine which is prohibited by the IOC at certain levels. Backstrom's test results showed an elevated amount.
“I've had allergies for seven years, since I got here. Everyone that lives in the Washington area knows how bad it is here,” Backstrom said. “Who do I blame? Well, I followed the doctor's recommendation.”
Sweden's team doctor Bjorn Waldeback told reporters in Sochi Sunday that Backstrom asked him before the Olympic tournament began if he could continue taking the medication and said yes.
“I can definitely question my own function as Tre Kronor's and the Swedish Olympic Committee's doctor, recommending a patient to take a doping classed medication in a too high dose. But if he'd ask me again I would still tell him to take it,” Waldback said in Sochi. “I feel a very big responsibility for this as I am medically responsible. But on the other hand, we could've never imagined the consequences of taking a medication that hardly affects the person and ruins the greatest day of his life.”
Backstrom has already missed out on the opportunity to play in that important contest but he'll now have to wait up to two weeks to find out if he will receive a silver medal while the IOC investigates the issue.
“It's up to the IOC,” Backstrom said. “We're still waiting and talking to the Swedish Federation and we'll see what's going to happen. It's up to them.”
The Capitals are trying to offer all the support they can, knowing how much the opportunity to play for Sweden in the gold-medal game meant to Backstrom.
“I think it's [garbage]. It's probably one of the highlights of his career and to not play in a game like because of something like Zyrtec,” fellow Olympian Martin Erat said. “I just think that it's stupidity. Take a guy like him, he works all his life for a tournament like that and he gets to the point where he plays in the biggest game of his career probably and some politicians or whatever just messed it up for him. It's stupid.”