By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke faces disciplinary action after an analysis of his biological passport showed "anti-doping rule violation", the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Tuesday.
"The analysis of the biological passport of Mr. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke by the Experts Panel has demonstrated an anti-doping rule violation (use of prohibited substances and/or methods)," the UCI said in a statement.
"Consequently and in compliance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI has requested his National Federation to initiate disciplinary proceedings."
If found guilty, Briton Tiernan-Locke, who denies any wrongdoing, could face a two-year ban.
"Mr. Tiernan Locke vehemently denies the charges brought against him and has informed the UCI that he fully intends to contest them," a statement from the rider's representatives read.
Once hailed as a brilliant British prospect, the 2012 Tour of Britain winner was withdrawn from racing in September after being questioned by the UCI over a discrepancy in his blood data.
Tiernan-Locke then pulled out of the world championships' road race in Florence, Italy. He has not raced since then.
The 29-year-old rider broke into the limelight in 2012, winning the Tour Mediterraneen, the Tour du Haut Var and the Tour of Britain while riding for the British Endura Racing team.
Team Sky reacted to the news by suspending the rider.
"We have been informed that he intends to defend himself against that charge," it said in a statement.
"Jonathan Tiernan-Locke will not ride for Team Sky or take part in any team activities - including training camps and all team duties - until a decision is made in this disciplinary hearing process.
"We understand that the violation was highlighted by an anomaly in his Biological Passport, in a reading taken before he signed for this team," it added.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)