An independent tribunal has handed a four-year ban to tennis sensation Simona Halep for anti-doping violations.
The 31-year-old Romanian intentionally violated the Tennis anti-doping program guidelines.
Halep tested positive for roxadustat during the 2022 US Open.
Roxadustat is an anti-anaemia drug which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the body.
Additionally, in 2022, there were some anomalies in her biological passport, involving the use of an unspecified prohibited substance.
The panel affirmed their confidence in the unanimous “strong opinion” of three independent experts, who concluded that “likely doping” was the cause of the anomalies in her biological passport.
Halep has been under provisional suspension since October 2022.
This means she will be eligible to return to play on October 7, 2026, at which point she will be 35 years old.
It’s worth noting that the tribunal’s findings are subject to appeal, and Halep expressed her intention to contest the verdict.
“I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously.
“and I 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,” she said
Halep, in anticipation of the 2022 hard court season, indicated that she had made “adjustments” to her nutritional supplements following her team’s guidance.
She emphasized that “none of the listed ingredients contained any prohibited substances.”
However, she admitted that one of the supplements contained roxadustat contamination and affirmed her intention to pursue all possible legal actions against the implicated supplement company.
“I believe in a clean sport and in almost two decades as a professional tennis player,
“Through hundreds of tournaments and two Grand Slam titles,
“I have taken 200 blood and urine tests to check for prohibited substances – all of which have been clean,” she added
Halep won the 2018 French Open and Wimbledon the subsequent year and stands as the most prominent tennis player to undergo a failed drug test since Maria Sharapova in 2016.
With 24 WTA tour singles titles and total prize earnings of £32.2m ($40.2m), she held the top global ranking in 2017 and 2018.
The Professional Tennis Players Association denounced the “repeated and unexplained delays” in Halep’s case as “unfair and unacceptable.”
They expressed their unwavering commitment to support her in any potential future appeals.