While Nicklas Backstrom was sitting on a plane headed back to Washington, alone with his thoughts about how allergy medicine kept him from playing in Sweden’s gold medal game against Canada at the Sochi Olympics, Capitals coach Adam Oates was trying to deal with a range of emotions.
Anger. Disappointment. Bewilderment.
“We feel so sorry for him, it’s terrible,” Oates said. “The circumstances, we don’t know all the facts, but he took cold medicine that’s allowed. ‘I’ve got a cold or I’ve got an allergy.’ They gave him the medicine, Zyrtec-D, that’s OK at the time and then all of a sudden it’s not OK. It kind of doesn’t make sense to me.”
Backstrom, 26, was drug tested by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday, but it was not until 2 ½ hours before Sunday’s game that he was pulled from Bolshoy Ice Dome and told he could not play in the gold medal game because 190 micro-grams per milliliters of Pseudoephedrine was found in his urine, 40 micro-grams above the limit allowed under IOC rules.
Oates wondered how the IOC could make such a determination for a time-release medication that works differently for every athlete’s body weight and metabolism.
“For me, and for us, it’s just a shame that he didn’t get to play in the game,” Oates said. “It’s a shame.”
Canada won the gold medal with a 3-0 victory. By all accounts, Backstrom left Sochi without a silver medal.
Oates said Backstrom and the rest of the Capitals Olympians – Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Marcus Johansson and Marty Erat – are expected to be at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday and will be given the option to skate with the team.
He said he would sit down and talk with Backstrom to talk about the difficult end to his two-week stay in Sochi, an end dictated by the IOC.
“I know it’s a blunder,” Oates said. “It’s an innocent blunder, but it’s still a blunder. It’s obviously another weird thing with the Olympics."
“To me, this seems like something the IOC will have to address for the next time because it’s not fair to the athletes. It’s not. To me it’s not fair to Backy. He matched all the protocol he’s supposed to match."
“Sometimes these things smell bad and it shouldn’t, right? I feel for him because that’s a game he obviously wanted to play. He’s been a big contributor for that team. It’s the biggest game in his career, maybe to date, and he can’t play. It’s just terrible.”