Simona Halep - Melbourne Summer Set 2022

Simona Halep labels new anti-doping breach a ‘nightmare’

Simona Halep has been charged with a ‘further and separate’ breach of the Anti-Doping Programme, following the two-time Grand Slam champion’s initial suspension back in October.

Halep has been away from the WTA tour since the US Open last year, when the prohibited substance of roxadustat was found in the former No.1’s system.

Roxadustat is a drug that helps increase the production of red blood cells and therefore Halep was subsequently suspended, to which she described it as ‘the biggest shock’ of her life.

The 31-year-old faced another setback yesterday as the International Tennis Integrity Agency revealed that Halep had been charged with another breach related to her Athlete Biological Passport.

“The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) confirms that Romanian tennis player Simona Halep has been charged with a further and separate breach of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP), relating to irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP),” the organisation said in a statement.

“Ms Halep has been provisionally suspended since October 2022, as a result of testing positive for prohibited substance Roxadustat at the US Open in August of last year.”

The statement continued, “The ABP programme, developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency and incorporated into the TADP under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), is a method by which anti-doping organisations monitor various blood parameters over time, to identify potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs).”

“The additional charge of an Adverse Passport Finding was based on an assessment of Ms. Halep’s ABP profile by an independent ABP Expert Panel. That charge is separate and in addition to the existing Roxadustat charge from August 2022 which triggered Ms. Halep’s original provisional suspension.”

Halep subsequently followed up this latest charge with a statement of her own, insisting that her name had been ‘soiled in the worst possible way’ after claiming that independent tribunals had been constantly postponed.

“Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA, for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life,” explained Halep.

“Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven’t ever even thought of taking an illicit substance.

The 2019 Wimbledon champion added, “I tried two times to have the opportunity to be judged by an independent tribunal, and the ITIA has constantly found reasons to postpone.”

Halep went onto suggest that she had been a ‘victim of a contamination’ and that experts had confirmed this, claiming that the ITIA have harassed her in an attempt to prove her guilty.

“Now that we have clearly established that I have been victim of a contamination, they came up with a so-called not normal evolution of my blood. Three world-renowned experts that have studied my blood test have been extremely clear that my blood is totally normal,” alleged Simona Halep.

She continued, “I feel helpless facing such harassment and motivation on their behalf to prove me guilty of something I never did. Once again, all my life I have been totally against any sort of cheating. It doesn’t align with my values.

The 24-time title winner revealed that she has a hearing scheduled at the end of the month, and that she has ‘full trust in justice’ after a six month wait.

“The only thing I hope for, at this point, is to have the possibility to finally access the independent and impartial judges in a tribunal, that will give me the chance to prove my innocence,” said Halep.

“I have full trust in justice and I look forward to finally being able to present my case at my hearing that is scheduled at the end of May, after several delays by the ITIA.”

Halep finished her statement with, “The support of my loved ones, the tennis world, and my fans have given me the courage to continue to practise every day and fight for the truth. I cannot thank you more for that. Love, Simona.”

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.