A front runner in the 2017 Tour of Northland has submitted a positive doping test during the region's biggest cycling event.

The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand has found cyclist Karl Murray committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) after testing positive for clenbuterol, an anabolic agent.

The finding came as a result of testing at the Tour of Northland on March 18, 2017, after which Murray was selected for doping control.

Through his membership of Cycling New Zealand, Murray is bound by the Sports Anti-Doping Rules, which reflect the World Anti-Doping Code. Analysis of Murray's "B" (or second) sample confirmed the finding of the "A" sample. It is not Murray's first ADRV and he now faces a significant ban from all sport.

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Murray committed a first ADRV in New Caledonia in 2014, following a positive test for nandrolone and testosterone. This led to a ban from all sport, recognised in New Zealand in 2015.

DFSNZ Chief Executive Nick Paterson says the punishment for committing multiple ADRVs is substantial and serves as a warning to all athletes and support personnel.

"Our message is very clear. The use of prohibited substances in sport will not be tolerated," Paterson said.

"Those who consciously choose to go against the spirit of sport are not only doing themselves a disservice, but undermining the efforts of other athletes - in this case his competitors in the Tour of Northland.

"We owe it to our clean athletes, the viewing public and society at large to catch these drug cheats.

"Mr Murray clearly did not learn the lessons from his first ADRV, and he now faces a significant ban from all sport. There is also the wider implication of using prohibited substances and that's the potential damage to his long-term health."

Murray remains subject to a provisional ban and is prohibited from partaking in sports or coaching athletes bound to the WADA Code.