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Swede Backstrom to get ice hockey silver medal - IOC

Sweden men's ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom skates during a team practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 22, 2014, ahead of
Sweden men's ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom skates during a team practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 22, 2014, ahead of

(Reuters) - Swedish ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom will receive an Olympic silver medal despite being forced to miss last month's final in Sochi due to a doping offence, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.

Although the IOC did not confirm at the time that Backstrom had failed a drugs test, Swedish officials pulled him out of the final after being told that he had been shown to be carrying a high level of the stimulant pseudoephedrine (PSE).

The IOC was criticized for its handling of the case and Sweden lost the final 3-0 to Canada.

Backstrom, one of Sweden's top players, said he appreciated the IOC decision.

"While I will always be disappointed that I wasn't able to play in the gold medal game with my fellow countrymen, I'm pleased that my name has been cleared by the IOC," Backstrom, who plays for the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, said in a statement.

"It is important to me that the IOC has acknowledged that I had asked for and received specific advice from my team doctor that taking this allergy medication would not be a violation. In addition, I had disclosed my use of over-the-counter medication prior to being tested."

Backstrom said at the Olympics he had taken the same medication for years to help treat nasal and sinus congestion while team officials felt his absence affected their chances of winning the gold medal.

An IOC Disciplinary Commission found that the 26-year-old Backstrom's provisional suspension was justified due to the presence of excess PSE.

It decided, however, that Backstrom could receive his medal because he had been co-operative, had taken the medication following advice from the team doctor and had not intended to improve his performance.

"Based upon these mitigating circumstances, the IOC DC considered that the athlete should be entitled to receive the silver medal and diploma awarded for men's ice hockey," the IOC said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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