Cahill offers Halep support: “No chance Simona knowingly or purposely took any substance on the banned list. None. Zero.”

The Romanian’s former coach said he had no doubt Halep had not deliberately tried to cheat by taking a performance-enhancing drug

Darren Cahill and Simona Halep coach DARREN CAHILL and SIMONA HALEP (ROU)

Darren Cahill, the former coach of Simona Halep, issued a passionate plea on Sunday in support of Simona Halep, who has been provisionally suspended for failing a drugs test at the US Open.

Halep tested positive for Roxadustat, an anti-anemia medication that can boost red blood cell production. The 31-year-old Romanian issued a statement saying she would never knowingly have taken any performance-enhancing drug.

And on Sunday, Cahill, who coached Halep to French Open glory in 2018 and to the world No 1 ranking, said he believed her, without reservation.

“Even though I’m no longer working with Simona, I’d like to speak clearly to the person I know and the athlete that I worked with for 6 years,” he said on Instagram.

Simona Halep & Darren Cahill
ZM / Panoramic

“Firstly, and most importantly, there is NO chance Simona knowingly or purposely took any substance on the banned list. None. Zero.

“She is an athlete that stressed about anything prescribed to her by a medical professional (which was rarely), or about any supplement that she used or considered. Simona wore out the words “please double check this, triple check this to make sure it’s legal, safe and permitted. If you are not sure, I’m not taking it”.”

Cahill said Halep fully respected the anti-doping programme of the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

“We both believe in the ITIA testing program and would often discuss the number of times she was tested, both at tournaments and randomly,” he said.

“She did it without complaint, with the reassurance of knowing other athletes were being tested just as frequently. Competing against clean athletes was important to her. It’s important to everyone and while the system is not perfect, it works.”

Cahill on Halep: “I stand with Simo”

Cahill, who previously helped Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No 1 and who now coaches Jannik Sinner, said Halep’s morality was not in question.

“Simona’s integrity is faultless, she respects her peers, she loves the game and she always has her feet firmly planted on the ground as a humble, approachable champion.

“I have sat proudly in awe of the person that she has matured into, watching the compassion she has shown others. I’m not talking about the stuff that the tennis world gets to see, I’m speaking about the kindness and care that very few are fortunate to experience. The kind of actions that are done for love and not for publicity.

“Honesty has always been her greatest strength and her biggest weakness. We would often laugh about the fact that she can’t act and can’t tell a little white lie. Ask her a question in a press conference and she will blurt out an honest answer. She wears her mood on her shoulder for the world to see, for good and for bad. That is Simo. What you see is what you get. She built an amazing career and legacy by doing things the hard way. The right way.

“Due process will now follow to reveal answers to many questions. As Simona said, the hardest match of her life starts now. I believe in her. I always have and can honestly say never more than right now on this particular issue. I stand with Simo.”

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