Simona Halep receives doping ban, set to lodge appeal

Former world No.1 Simona Halep has been banned from tennis for four years after being found guilty of breaching anti-doping rules by the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

The Romanian has indicated she is set to appeal the ruling.

Halep was charged with a second doping offence after originally testing positive in August 2022.

The two-time Grand Slam winner’s first sample that was provided at August’s US Open tested positive for Roxadustat.

Halep’s second offence was recently revealed by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA).

The tennis star, who has been provisionally suspended for the last 12 months, has indicated she will fight the allegations.

The Sporting News explains everything you need to know about Halep’s situation.

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Halep has been banned from tennis for the next four years by the ITIA for breaching anti-doping rules, subject to a yet-to-be-announced appeal.

The 31-year-old indicated she would fight the outcome.

“Today, a tribunal under the tennis anti-doping programme announced a tentative decision in my case,” Halep said in a statement.

“The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues.

“I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance. I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban.”

After being subject to a routine drug test at the US Open in August, Halep tested positive for traces of Roxadustat.

It is not known if she provided the sample before or after her first-round loss to Ukrainian talent Daria Snigur on August 29.

Halep has been banned provisionally from the sport pending an investigation into the test results.

The 31-year-old’s B sample has also tested positive for Roxadustat, says the ITIA.

“While provisionally suspended, the player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events organised by the governing bodies of the sport,” the ITIA said in a statement.

Since Halep’s first positive test, the ITIA confirmed in May she has produced another irregular test.

“We understand this announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation,” ITIA senior director Nicole Sapstead said,

“From the outset of this process – and indeed any other at the ITIA – we have remained committed to engaging with Ms Halep in an empathetic, efficient, and timely manner.

“We do, of course, appreciate there is a great deal of media interest in these cases.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on specifics until the conclusion of the process, but we will continue to engage with the Sport Resolutions independent tribunal and Ms Halep’s representatives as expeditiously as possible.”

Maria Sharapova in 2016 was the last high-profile tennis player to test positive to a banned substance.

In April, prior to the second positive test, Halep indicated her frustration at the investigation process.

 “I’ve been provisionally suspended for eight months even though I’ve sent all the evidence regarding my contamination to the ITF last December,” she said.

“I don’t ask for any special treatment, but to be able to get judged by the tribunal. I feel it is unfair. How long is it going to last?”

Via a statement on her Twitter account in October last year, Halep indicated she would fight the doping allegations and claimed there was an ‘extremely low quantity’ of Roxadustat present in her system.

“Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with,” Halep posted.

“Facing such an unfair sanction, I feel completely confused and betrayed.

“I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that, sooner or later, the truth will come out.

“It’s not about the titles or the money. It’s about the honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years.”

Roxadustat is a drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells in the body in its usual purpose as an anti-anaemia substance for patients with chronic kidney disease.

It can also help the body produce more EPO (erythropoietin), which is a natural hormone that athletes have attempted to exploit in recent years for improved performance.

The substance was only approved for medical use in the European Union in August 2021.

Simona Halep doping: Former world No. 1 banned for four years, lodging appeal

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