Ontario curler banned two years

Joe Frans, who curled second on Wayne Middaugh's Ontario rink the past two years, was suspended two years because of a doping infraction committed at the Brier in Edmonton.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport confirmed Tuesday that Frans tested positive for a cocaine metabolite included on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances.

When asked for an explanation by the CCES, he responded via e-mail on April 11.

"This is a complete shock," Frans wrote. "I don't believe it. "I drink a lot – I'm a curler – but I don't do drugs.

"I partied hard at the Tim Horton's Brier, going to the Patch (a licensed area) every night. I did go to the smoke hole often because I like to smoke when drinking...I also went to many after-parties all week long.

"I don't remember seeing cocaine or anyone smoking it...I am at a loss.

"I would never do anything to jeopardize something that means so much to me and everyone around me. I don't know what I would do without curling."

Frans, who was tested March 8, never waived his right to a hearing before independent arbitrator Richard McLaren, but did not participate in the hearing or even provide a written explanation.

As such, McLaren issued the ban and denied Frans any funding from the federal government "due to his lack of co-operation and willingness to participate" in the process.

"The independent arbitrator determined that (his) adverse analytical finding constitutes an anti-doping violation and imposed a sanction of two years sport ineligibility and permanent ineligibility for federal sport funding," said the CCES on Tuesday.

Frans, a 29-year-old from Grimsby, Ont., was Middaugh's second as Ontario finished 6-5 in the Brier at Rexall Place.

But he and long-time third Graeme McCarrel were let go in April by Middaugh, who was unaware of Fran's positive urine sample.

"I've got nothing bad to say about Joe," Middaugh told The Toronto Star.

"It's really too bad and I hope he figures out a way to get everything straightened out and move on with his life."

with files from CP Online