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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Simona Halep Suspended: Doping Scandal Rocks Tennis World

Simona Halep, former world number 1 in tennis and two-time Grand Slam champion, has been suspended for four years due to two violations of the anti-doping regulations, announced this Tuesday by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). 31-year-old Halep had already been provisionally suspended since October 2022.

Her four-year suspension will end on October 6, 2026, specified the ITIA. The Romanian player, winner of Roland Garros in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, announced shortly after that she will “appeal this decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” based in Lausanne (Switzerland).

“I continue training and will do everything in my power to clear my name from these false accusations and return to the courts,” she wrote. The first violation is a positive test for roxadustat during the US Open in 2022. This substance stimulates the production of red blood cells and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The Romanian has insisted that experts have shown that this substance was in her system due to accidental contamination after consuming a dietary supplement, and she claims her innocence, demanding the ability to testify and defend herself before anti-doping bodies. The second charge relates to irregularities in her biological passport, explained the independent body responsible for the fight against doping in tennis.

“They are killing not only my reputation but also my career,” Halep said in May, adding that she is living “the worst nightmare” and denouncing “harassment” by the ITIA: “They want to prove that I am guilty of anything that I haven’t done.” Halep has not played since her elimination in the first round of the US Open 2022, a year ago.

The Romanian is the first high-profile player to be suspended for doping since Maria Sharapova in 2016, when she tested positive for meldonium and was suspended for 15 months.

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