Halep enduring “biggest shock of her life” after being suspended for failing drug test

The former world No 1 tested positive for a banned substance at the 2022 US Open, “an extremely low quantity” in her own words

Simona Halep

Simona Halep’s fans expected to see their favourite player back on the court as early as possible in 2023, after the Romanian ended her season early to have a nose surgery and complete her divorce.

But the Romanian former world No 1, twice a Grand Slam champion, will be out for an undetermined time.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency released a statement on Friday provisionally suspending Halep for the “presence of a prohibited substance in a player’s sample” after a drugs test at the US Open.

The substance, present without a valid TUE (therapeutic use exemption), was Roxadustat, an anti-anemia medication.

Halep says she did not take anything intentionally

In a statement published on Instagram, world No 9 Halep said : “an extremely low quantity” of the substance was found in sample A and the sample B.

“Today begins the hardest match of my life,” Halep wrote”. “A fight for the truth. I have been notified that I have tested positive (…) which came as the biggest shock of my life.”

The ITIA, the institution which administers the World Anti-Doping Code for the International Tennis Federation, said it informed Halep on October 7. The Romanian was tested after her defeat by Daria Snigur in the first round, which was the first major upset of the competition after the Romanian’s win at the Canadian Open just beforehand.

I feel completely confused and betrayed

Simona Halep

Tennis Majors understands from Halep’s statement that she will challenge the decision in every possible way, denying any intentionality.

“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,” she writes in the conclusion.

Before, she stated : “Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed. 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. It’s not about the titles or the money. It’s about honour and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years.”

Tennis Majors tried to reach Halep and her entourage to get more information but were told that the player’s statement is the exact reflection of her spirit at the moment.

Halep entitled to appeal to independent panel

The finding will now be investigated fully. Halep has the right to appeal her suspension. If she does so, the IATA says there will be an independent hearing, with an eventual decision by an independent panel.

Halep faces a maximum punishment of four years. If she can prove the ingestion of the drug was unintentional, then the maximum is reduced to two years.

There is no timescale for the process, the AITA said.

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