Simona Halep to appeal after being hit with four-year ban for doping violations

Two-time Grand Slam champion suspended for two separate rule breaches

Simona Halep insists she has 'never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance'. AP
Powered by automated translation

Former World No 1 Simona Halep has been banned from tennis until 2026 for two separate anti-doping rule violations.

The 31-year-old Romanian former Wimbledon and French Open champion has been provisionally suspended since October 2022 after testing positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat at the US Open last year.

She was subsequently charged with irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) and both charges have been upheld following an independent tribunal.

"The first [charge] related to an Adverse Analytical Finding for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the US Open in 2022, carried out through regular urine testing during competition," the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said in a statement.

Halep has strongly denied knowingly taking the banned substance and said she had evidence to show that small amounts of the anaemia drug entered her system from a licensed supplement that was contaminated.

"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 ITIA added.

The second charge related to irregularities in Halep's Athlete Biological Passport.

It said the ABP charge was also upheld as three independent experts were unanimous that "likely doping" was the explanation for the irregularities in Halep's profile.

Halep swiftly confirmed in a statement that she would appeal the decision: “Today, a tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announced a tentative decision in my case.

“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.”

Last October, Halep had described the suspension as the "biggest shock of her life" and insisted "the truth will come out."

"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," she wrote on Twitter. "Facing such an unfair situation, 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."

Updated: September 13, 2023, 5:56 PM