NEWS
02/08/2012 03:56 EST | Updated 04/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Canadian cyclist Martel handed two-year ban for presence of testosterone

OTTAWA - Canadian cyclist Benjamin Martel was handed a two-year ban Wednesday for a doping violation at the 2011 Quebec provincial road race championships.

The presence of testosterone — which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list — was detected during in-competition doping control at the event last August.

The ban is backdated to the competition date and will last until Aug. 28, 2013.

"We remain concerned that any rider would resort to doping and know that we need to focus testing at all levels,” Canadian Cycling Association secretary-general Greg Mathieu said in a statement.

''As we have said previously, cheaters need to know that the CCA and CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport) are collaborating to ensure testing at all levels and types of races to rid our sport of this menace."

Martel, who raced for Team Spirit Cannondale, finished 14th in the senior men's race.

''This testing mission was conducted as part of a strategic approach based on intelligence gathered in related testing,'' said CCES president Paul Melia. ''We welcome information about doping activities and encourage people to help us protect athletes who choose to compete clean by contacting us through our confidential communication systems.''

Martel is the third Quebec-based cyclist to receive a two-year ban for the presence of a prohibited substance in 2011.

Miguel Agreda was banned for the use of erythropoietin (EPO) and ephedrine at the same event. Arnaud Papillon, who also raced for Garneau-Club Chaussures, was sanctioned after a positive EPO test from the Canadian road race championship in Burlington, Ont., last August.

Martel chose to have a hearing after being told of the finding. However, the arbitrator decided to uphold the CCES recommendation and imposed the sanction.

"This case of doping further highlights the need for continued testing and education," said CCA president John Tolkamp. "We must continue to educate the young riders on the need to race clean and be proud of their accomplishments in that vein while being vigilant towards those that will take shortcuts."

The announcement came two days after Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and banned for two years after sport's highest court found him guilty of doping.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the three-time Tour champion after rejecting his claim that his positive test for clenbuterol was caused by eating contaminated meat.

Clara Hughes — who has reached the Olympic podium for Canada in cycling and speedskating — weighed in on the sport's doping issues during her appearance this week on CBC's "George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight."

"The sport is hurting bad," Hughes said on the program. "But women's cycling is a totally different world. I firmly believe I am stepping back into a sport where I have a legitimate, honest chance of being the best I can on a very equal, level playing field."

After retiring from speedskating, Hughes has returned to cycling and plans to compete at the London Olympics.