The general manager of the Swedish hockey team explained during a press conference why he believes that the timing of Nicklas Backstrom’s failed drug test was a political conspiracy.
Backstrom, one of Sweden’s top players, was banned just prior to the gold medal game loss to Canada after testing positive for an illegal substance found in his allergy medication (via Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports):
“Swedish GM: My suspicion is that this was a political decision. ‘They waited until it would make a real good impact with you journalists…They need examples to show whole sports world that they don’t accept doping. They need examples to scare cheaters with.'”
In other words, the GM believes the IOC waited on purpose to release its ruling in order to maximise media exposure.
According to Wyshynski, Backstrom was tested on Wednesday and yet the decision to suspend him from the game wasn’t made until just prior to warmups before the gold medal game on Sunday. Sweden lost 3-0 to Canada.
The IOC explained that the volume of drug tests did not allow it to issue its ruling on Backstrom earlier.
With just three events on Sunday it is unclear why the IOC could not prioritise tests for such a high profile event earlier in the day or even the day before.
Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that Backstrom tested positive for a substance all athletes are warned not to take. However, it is easy to imagine that the timing had a huge negative impact on the team beyond just losing a key player.
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