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Pound disappointed WADA let Backstrom off hook for positive test in Sochi

05/13/2015 06:36 EDT | Updated 05/13/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - The World Anti-Doping Agency was too quick to let Swedish forward Nicklas Backstrom off the hook for a failed test at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Canadian Dick Pound said Wednesday.

Pound, who caused a stir in 2005 when he estimated a third of NHL players used banned substances, expressed disappointment at a WADA foundation board meeting that an athlete who had a positive test could "walk around wearing a silver medal.

"I think we dropped the ball by not pursuing that," he said.

Backstrom was barred from playing in the Olympic final when a test taken after a quarter-final win tested positive for the stimulant pseudoephedrine.

The Washington Capitals centre argued that he had informed anti-doping officials beforehand that he used medication containing the drug to combat a sinus problem and that he had never tested positive before.

The Swedes were upset that they learned of the ban only hours before their 3-0 loss to Canada in the final.

Backstrom dropped his appeal when an agreement was reached with the International Olympic Committee, WADA and the International Ice Hockey Federation that he would get only a reprimand and would be cleared of any doping violation.

He received his silver medal in August.

"This is a guy who tests positive in the Olympic tournament and somehow, when the smoke clears, he gets an Olympic medal. I don't get it," said Pound, a board member and former WADA boss. "We probably should not have participated in the settlement."

Pound said that while baseball and the NFL have successful programs, sports leagues like the NHL and the NBA should have more extensive and transparent dope testing. WADA has no say in North American pro league programs because they are not government funded or sanctioned.

He was especially skeptical of the NHL, which introduced a dope testing program in 2005 in an agreement with the NHL Players Association calling for up to two tests per player each year. Only three NHL players have been sanctioned for positive tests, each receiving a 20-game suspension for a first violation.

"It's never been robust," Pound said. "You don't know what's on their list.

"You don't know how many tests they're doing. You don't know who's doing the analyses, so I have no idea what the results management process is."

WADA executive director David Howman said baseball is "a bit above the others because of the steps they've taken.

"They've moved closer to the code than the other leagues," said Howman. "What we've got is a continuous dialogue with the other leagues, including the NHL, and we'll work with the NHL in terms of the World Hockey Classic, which is going to be held in Toronto next year, so their program will hopefully be alongside the code."

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