MONTREAL (Reuters) - The former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency blasted the organization on Wednesday for being part a deal that allowed Swedish ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom to keep his silver medal despite testing positive at the Sochi Olympics.
Backstrom missed the final against Canada after a doping test showed an elevated level of the stimulant pseudoephedrine, but based on mitigating circumstances the International Olympic Committee determined he was entitled to receive the silver.
Backstrom said the adverse finding had come from an over-the-counter medication he used to treat a sinus condition, and that he had been using the medication for years without any problems.
“I would like to voice my disappointment in the Backstrom case, we have an athlete who failed a test and is walking around with a silver medal around his neck,” Dick Pound, who was WADA president from 1999-2007, told the agency’s Foundation Board Meeting in Montreal. “I think we fumbled the ball.”
The IOC decision touched off a storm of appeals that led to the Swede accepting a reprimand from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a settlement agreement brokered by WADA, the IOC and International Ice Hockey Federation. [ID:nL3N0UU5DV]
“This is a guy (Backstrom) who tests positive in the Olympic tournament and somehow when the smoke clears he gets an Olympic medal,” said Pound. “I don’t get it.
“We appealed and we should not have participated in the settlement.
While Major League Baseball, the National Football League and National Basketball Association were singled out for praise by anti-doping officials the National Hockey League was seen as lagging behind.
The NHL’s drug-testing is widely viewed as the weakest among the big four North American sports leagues and is the only one that does not currently test for human growth hormone.
In the last eight years the NHL has seen only three positive tests.
“It has never been robust,” said Pound, who once ignited a firestorm in hockey-mad Canada in when he claimed 30 percent of NHL players used performance-enhancing drugs.
“You don’t know what is on their list, you don’t know how many test they are doing, you don’t know who is doing the analysis, you don’t know what the results management is or how many test they do.
“I’m not sure what it is, there is no obligation in the NHL.”
Editing by Frank Pingue