Simona Halep insists the charges are false and has vowed to appeal the four-year suspension
Simona Halep of Romania will be banned from tennis for four years for breaching anti-doping regulations, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced on Tuesday. Halep has reacted by announcing she will appeal the decision.
An “independent tribunal, established by Sport Resolutions,” ruled on Monday that Halep had committed “intentional Anti-Doping Rule Violations” by taking a banned substance in August 2022, ITIA said.
The tribunal met in London at the end of June and “heard from expert scientific witnesses on behalf of Halep and the ITIA.” Halep also testified directly. The decision was based on the results of the doping test at the US Open and the analysis of 51 blood samples provided by the player as part of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) program.
“The volume of evidence for the tribunal to consider in both the roxadustat and ABP proceedings was substantial,” ITIA chief executive Karen Moorhouse said, calling the process “complex and rigorous.” She insisted that ITIA “followed the proper processes as we would with any other individual.”
Roxadustat is a medication for anemia that the World Anti-Doping Agency has banned as a blood enhancer. The tribunal accepted Halep’s explanation that a “contaminated” supplement was to blame, but said the concentration in the sample was too high for that. They also accepted expert testimony that irregularities in her ABP profile were due to “likely doping.”
Halep has spent the past year on provisional suspension pending the outcome of the inquiry. This will count towards her four-year ban, the tribunal said. The 31-year-old Romanian will be eligible to return to tennis in October 2026.
“While I am grateful to finally have an outcome following numerous unfounded delays and a feeling of living in purgatory for over a year, I am both shocked and disappointed by their decision,” Halep said on Tuesday morning. She also said that ITIA “brought an ABP charge only after its expert group learned my identity, causing two out of three to suddenly change their opinion” about the allegations.
The Romanian said she intends to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in order to clear her name and “pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question.”
Halep has won 24 WTA titles, including the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon, and spent 64 weeks as world number one in the course of her career. Her suspension is the biggest scandal in women’s tennis since 2016, when WADA banned Russia’s Maria Sharapova for using meldonium, a commonly used medication in the former Soviet Union that was newly introduced to the prohibited list. Sharapova returned to tennis in 2018 but retired in 2020.
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