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Briton Tiernan-Locke's doping ban upheld

LONDON (Reuters) - UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has upheld former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke's two-year ban after irregularities were found in his biological passport, the organization announced on Monday.

Tiernan-Locke withdrew from racing in September after being questioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) over a discrepancy in his blood data.

He blamed the finding on an "alcoholic binge" and subsequent dehydration but the UKAD said he had used "a prohibited substance (an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent) and/or prohibited method (blood doping) to boost his levels of hemoglobin".

"This was based on expert opinion on the conclusions drawn from a blood sample taken on 22 September 2012 under the UCI Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) program," the UKAD added.

"This sample was assessed against four further samples taken to build a profile of the rider's blood."

The UKAD said Tiernan-Locke, 29, had failed to sufficiently explain the abnormal values, which were taken before he joined Team Sky.

The rider was previously stripped of his 2012 Tour of Britain title and 2012 world championship results, and was sacked by Team Sky.

"This is the first Athlete Biological Passport case handled by UK Anti-Doping, handed down under the rules by the UCI," UKAD legal director Graham Arthur said in a statement.

"The panel found Jonathan Tiernan-Locke to be in breach of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules and consequently he has been handed a two-year ban preventing him from competing or training."

He is banned until the end of 2015.

(Reporting by Josh Reich, editing by Tony Jimenez)

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