- Women’s tennis ace Simona Halep has received a four year ban from the sport
- The Romanian is a two-time Grand Slam champion and ex-Wimbledon winner
- Her ban follows breaches of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme [TADP]
Two-time women’s Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been banned from tennis for four years after breaching the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme [TADP].
The Romanian had already been suspended while an investigation into potential doping was carried out and she has now received a lengthy ban from the sport.
Halep was automatically withdrawn from the recent US Open due to her doping suspension and she will now endure a forced leave of absence after returning two irregular doping tests.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency [ITIA] confirmed on Tuesday that an independent tribunal had decided the punishment due to two separate incidents involving the former Wimbledon champion.
Her first positive test for a banned substance came during last year’s US Open when a sample highlighted the prohibited substance roxadustat during a routine urine test. The substance stimulates production of hemoglobin and red blood cells.
Two-time women’s Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been banned from tennis for four years
Halep has been found to have committed two doping violations after an investigation
Halep released a statement insisting she had been ‘accidentally’ exposed to roxadustat
It is most often used to treat sufferers of anaemia but is on WADA’s Prohibited Substance list due to it being considered a blood doping agent.
The second breach of the TADP charges relates to ‘irregularities in her athlete biological passport’.
Halep has denied any wrongdoing and published an emotional statement stressing that she is ‘shocked and disappointed by the verdict’ and will be appealing it at the court of Court of Arbitration for Sport and will be taking legal action against the supplement company she insists gave her contaminated goods.
Part of her response said: ‘I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance.
‘I refuse to accept their decision of a four-year ban.
‘While I am grateful to finally have an outcome following numerous unfounded delays and a feeling of living in purgatory for over a year, I am both shocked and disappointed by their decision.
‘I am eternally grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from my family, friends, and tennis fans around the world.
‘I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court,’ she added.
The Romanian has denied any wrongdoing and will appeal the decision
After publishing their findings, the ITIA explained Halep had committed intentional Anti-Doping Rule Violations under Article 2 of the TADP.
Those violations as outlined by the organisation relate to: ‘the presence and use of roxadustat as evidenced in Halep’s urine sample collected on 29 August 2022 at the US Open’ and ‘use of a prohibited substance or method during 2022, based on collection and analysis of 51 blood samples provided by the player as part of the ABP programme’.
The tribunal agreed with Halep’s argument that she had taken a contaminated supplement, however, it was decided the levels of roxadustat found in the positive sample were too high for that to be the only cause.
Decision-makers also sided with three independent Athlete Passport Management Unit (APMU) representatives that ‘likely doping’ was the reason for the irregularities.
Her ban will run from 7 October 2022 until 6 October 2026 and Halep is able to appeal the decision.
Karen Moorhouse, Chief Executive Officer at the ITIA, explained the body’s findings, stating: ‘After a complex and rigorous hearing process, we welcome the independent tribunal’s decision.
Halep’s ban will run from 7 October 2022 until 6 October 2026 but she is able to appeal the decision
It was decided by a tribunal that ‘likely doping’ was the cause of her irregular samples
The tribunal agreed with Halep’s argument that she had taken a contaminated supplement
‘The volume of evidence for the tribunal to consider in both the roxadustat and ABP proceedings was substantial.
‘The ITIA has followed the proper processes as we would with any other individual – in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code – fulfilling our purpose and responsibility to uphold the principle of fair competition, on behalf of the sport. The panel recognised that appropriate procedure had been followed within the written decision.
‘We do understand the significant public interest in these cases and remain committed to being as transparent as possible and the full decision will be published in due course.’