Yelena Brezhniva has been banned by RUSADA for four years ©RUSADA

Double European champion cyclist Yelena Brezhniva has been banned for four years by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) after failing a drugs test.

The 26-year-old tested positive for growth hormones with her ban backdated to June 22, 2015.

She first represented Russia in 2008 and won the European team sprint titles in consecutive years, firstly with Olga Stretsova in Apeldoorn in 2013 and then with Anastasiia Voinova in Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory in the Caribbean, in 2014. 

According to her coach Sergey Kovpanets, she is now likely to retire from the sport.

"Lena explained that it was her own fault and agreed with the verdict," he told TASS.

"I believe that she will wrap up with her sports career and start a new one, but one not connected with sports.

Yelena Brezhniva tested positive for growth hormone
Yelena Brezhniva tested positive for growth hormone ©Getty Images

"This case, however, should serve as a lesson for the rest, who must understand that the punishment for wrongdoings is always inevitable.

"It is very difficult to sympathise with her under the current circumstances considering the fact that she had agreed with the decision.

"It means that she feels her guilt."

Kovpanets said Brezhniva had passed a doping test during the off-season.

"This is simply some sort of a criminal do-it-yourself approach," he said.

"In the current times, when punishments were tightened for doping abuse, one should treat everything with great care.

"The responsibility should also rest with all those being around an athlete - coaches, massage therapists, doctors.

"Each athlete must be extremely careful about what he or she consumes, and it goes to food as well."

RUSADA is aiming to crack down on doping in the country after being found non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

This followed reports of widespread state sponsored drug-use in Russian athletics.