A first-year running back at the University of Waterloo has received a three-year ban from football after becoming the first North American athlete to test positive for human growth hormone.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport says Matt Socholotiuk also tested positive for testosterone.

"We have suspected HGH has been abused by certain athletes in an effort to cheat," Paul Melia, the CCES president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "We now have the proof. However, it is alarming and of great concern that its presence has been detected with our young athletes."

Socholotiuk, a native of Waterford, Ont., was initially banned for four years, but appealed the ruling. An arbitrator ultimately reduced the suspension to three years through to June 4, 2013.

In June, the school suspended its football program from competition for a full season after urine tests revealed nine anti-doping violations.

A total of 82 samples were collected March 31, with 62 being for urine and 20 for blood.

The CCES said in July one of the blood samples returned an adverse analytical finding and had come from one of the nine players who had also failed the urine test. Melia had refused to reveal details about the failed blood test at the time.

3 players sanctioned

The Waterloo football team will return to regular competition in 2011 even though 18 players have already transferred to other schools.

Earlier this year, the British anti-doping authority announced a two-year suspension for a rugby player, who became the first athlete to be suspended for using HGH.

The CCES also revealed the names of three other Waterloo players who were sanctioned for positive tests.

Spencer Zimmerman-Cryer, a third year centre from London, Ont., will be ineligible for one year after he admitted using the steroid Oral-Turinabol.

First-year receiver Aubrey Jesseau of Thunder Bay, Ont., received a two-year ban after testing positive for Stanazolol.

Brandon Krukowski, a third-year linebacker from Kitchener, Ont., was handed a four-year suspension after initially refusing to be tested, then acknowledging he had committed a violation.

Krukowski later recanted the validity of a waiver he had signed but after Krukowski chose not to participate in a hearing, an arbitrator denied the appeal and the waiver was upheld.