Simona Halep, the two-time Grand Slam champion, has been handed a four-year ban from tennis by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) due to two separate anti-doping rule violations.
The first violation involved an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the 2022 U.S. Open, detected during regular urine testing during competition. Although Halep argued that she had unknowingly taken a contaminated supplement, the tribunal determined that the concentration of roxadustat in her sample couldn’t have resulted from the supplement.
The second charge pertained to irregularities in Halep’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), with three independent experts concurring that “likely doping” explained the irregularities.
Halep vehemently denied knowingly taking the banned substance and claimed that it entered her system through a licensed supplement contaminated with small amounts of the anaemia drug.
The 31-year-old 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.
Back in October, Halep said the positive drugs test she returned was “the biggest shock of her life,” and vowed to clear her name.
The banned substance, Roxadustat increases the production of red blood cells, helping endurance, and is in the same category of banned substances as EPO.
Despite this challenging situation, Halep remains determined to return to the tennis court and continue her career. Her achievements in the sport, including winning Grand Slam titles at the French Open and Wimbledon, are a testament to her dedication to tennis.
Halep turned professional in 2006, making her WTA main draw debut in 2010 at the Andalucia Tennis Experience.
She reached her first Grand Slam final in 2014, when she lost at the French Open to Sharapova.
After also losing finals at Roland Garros (2017) and the Australian Open (2018), Halep finally won her first major when she beat Sloane Stephens at the 2018 French Open, and she went on to defeat Serena Williams to claim a maiden Wimbledon title in 2019.
In response to the verdict, Halep expressed her determination to fight the ban. She plans to appeal the decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue legal action against the supplement company in question.