Simona Halep Will Be Out of Tennis for Four Years

Romanian tennis star Simona Halep has been handed a four-year suspension from the professional tour after contravening anti-doping regulations. Halep, a former world number one and winner of two Grand Slam titles, was temporarily barred from competing last October following a positive test for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the 2022 US Open. The 31-year-old, who triumphed at Wimbledon in 2019, will now be ineligible to play until September 2026. She had been among the most successful players on the WTA circuit over the last decade, reaching number one in the rankings and lifting major trophies in Paris and London. However, her career is now set for an extended break after falling foul of the anti-doping code.

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What claims ITIA

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has confirmed that former world number one Simona Halep has been handed a four-year ban from the sport for two anti-doping violations.

In a statement, the ITIA revealed that Halep was found to have committed breaches of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme related to the prohibited substance roxadustat and irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport.

The first violation stemmed from a positive test for roxadustat in a urine sample provided by Halep at last year’s US Open. The second was for the ‘use of a prohibited substance or method’ in 2022, based on analysis of her biological passport blood samples.

An independent tribunal accepted Halep’s claim that she had ingested a contaminated supplement, but ruled the amount found in her sample could not have resulted solely from such exposure.

The abnormalities in the Romanian’s biological passport data were also upheld as evidence of likely doping, with the tribunal in agreement with three experts that this was the only plausible explanation.

Karen Moorhouse, CEO of the ITIA, stated that the organization welcomed the tribunal’s decision following a thorough and rigorous process. She confirmed that proper procedures were followed and a full written ruling would be published soon.

What’s Halep’s reaction?

In a statement, the Romanian confirmed she will fight the suspension in what she described as the “hardest match of my life”.

Halep proclaimed her innocence, insisting she has never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substances.

She went on to say that she refused to accept the tribunal’s decision to impose a four-year suspension, which will rule her out of tennis until September 2026 if it is upheld.

The 31-year-old added that she has devoted her life to tennis and takes the rules that govern the sport very seriously.

Halep, champion at Wimbledon in 2019, must now decide whether to challenge the suspension through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.