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Former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been suspended for four years for doping violations by the International Tennis Integrity Agency. The 31-year-old has tested positive for the prohibited anti-anemia drug roxadustat after last year’s US Open.
What actually happened?
In October 2022, Halep was tested positive for Roxadustat and was provisionally suspended. She was shocked by the decision by the International Tennis Integrity Agency and said that she will “fight for the truth.”
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 21, 2022
Halep claimed that the substance came from a ‘contaminated food supplement’. It is believed that the Romanian identified the source of the roxadustat in supplements she had been taking but did not provide a proper labelling of the product.
Almost a year later after the positive test, ITIA has handed her one of the biggest bans in tennis history.
“The first charge related to an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the U.S. Open in 2022, carried out through regular urine testing during competition,” the ITIA said in a statement.
“The tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that they had taken a contaminated supplement, but determined the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample.
“The second charge related to irregularities in Halep’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).”
Three independent experts were unanimous that “likely doping” was the explanation for the irregularities in Halep’s profile. The tennis star has the right to file an appeal on the ITIA decision, but it is unlikely that it will change the decision.
What’s next for Halep?
Right after the news broke out, Halep came out with a statement on her twitter profile, stating that she has taken more than 200 blood tests and has always been clean, calling this case “false allegations”.
My fight continues. pic.twitter.com/kx5uzrLWCz
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) September 12, 2023
Halep and her legal team will most likely file an appeal on the ITIA decision but there are no further evidence that can get the two-time Grand Slam champion out of the trouble. In the best-case scenario, the four-year ban may be reduced, which is what Halep hopes for. She is already 31-years-old and has not played a match in almost a year. If she needs to serve a four-year ban, that will probably be the end of her playing career.
Halep’s career recap
Halep has been on the WTA circuit for 17 years after becoming a pro in 2006. After losing three Grand Slam finals, she finally won the 2018 French Open. The following year, she won Wimbledon, losing only one set in the entire tournament and dominating Serena Williams in a 6-2, 6-2 win in the final.
Halep reached the top of the WTA rankings for the first time in 2017 and spent a total of 64 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world which puts her 12th on the all-time list.
From 2014 to 2021, Halep was constantly in the top 10 and finished each of those seven years among the top four players in the WTA rankings, which totals 373 consecutive weeks, the seventh longest streak ever in the women tennis.
Halep won a total of 24 WTA titles and 18 times finished as a runner up. She won her last title in 2022 in Toronto.
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