IIHF decides against ban for Ohlund, frees him to compete in Olympics

Monday, January 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Swedish defenseman Mattias Ohlund will be free to compete in the Olympic Games despite failing a doping test, the International Ice Hockey Federation said Monday.

The federation decided to give the Vancouver Canucks player a ``strong warning'' but no suspension because there had been ``exceptional circumstances'' in his positive test for the banned drug Acetazolamide after a random test on Dec. 11.

IIHF Chief Medical Officer Mark Aubry told the Disciplinary Committee that the drug had been contained within medicine given to Ohlund following eye surgery.

``It was unanimously agreed that this was a positive test but not a doping infraction, that sports bodies must be very careful not to interfere with the good and proper treatment of injured athletes by competent medical specialists, and that, at all times, we must be fair and reasonable in dealing with our athletes so that they can support our efforts to keep our sport drug-free,'' IIHF said.

Ohlund had surgery Dec. 3 to clear up lingering scar tissue that developed on his eye. It was the fourth operation since Ohlund was struck with an errant puck during an exhibition game before the 1999-2000 season.

Ohlund did not inform officials of the World Anti-Doping Agency about the medicine he received. Acetazolamide can be used to mask steroids, but the Swedish ice hockey federation said Ohlund had not known the medicine contained a banned substance.

The Swedish national ice hockey team's general manager, Anders Hedberg, told The Associated Press he thought it was a ``sensible'' decision.

``This shows that the system works. We don't want those who cheat,'' he said. ``In this case, it is evident that it is a purely medical mistake.

``I have nothing against Mattias being given a warning, because in the end we are all individually responsible for everything we come in contact with.''