Former world number one Simona Halep has just been handed the most dreadful news of her career. Halep has been slapped with a 4-year ban for ‘intentional’ doping. The former Wimbledon champion failed a doping test at the US Open last year. Months of controversy and counter-arguments ensued, with the case languishing for months on end, and now the verdict is out.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) was investigating the case. It is an independent body that works on behalf of the governing bodies of tennis. The ITIA’s main role is to oversee anti-doping and anti-corruption programs. Today we take a deeper look at Simona Halep‘s doping timeline.
Simona Halep failed the doping test
Halep failed the doping test initially at the US Open last year. She tested positive for the anti-anemia drug Roxadustat, a banned substance in tennis. Halep was subsequently suspended.
The ITIA explained that it increases the count of red blood cells (RBCs). It gives an undue advantage to players, which is why it is prohibited. Simona became one of the most high-profile players to be involved in a doping controversy since Maria Sharapova.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 21, 2022
The Romanian star vehemently denied the doping allegations. She issued a statement, pleading her innocence. “I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life,” she wrote.
ITIA’s delays in verdict
While Halep was provisionally suspended, the case was in limbo for a long time. The hearing commenced in June, but the verdict was constantly delayed. As a direct consequence of this delay, Halep could not participate in any tours and her rankings dropped.
Simona Halep says the decision in her case has been delayed again.
“It is hard to explain the emotional toll these delays have had & continue to have on me.”
How much longer will she have to wait for a verdict.
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) August 31, 2023
Back in September, Simona shared a sad update about her hearing. The ITIA had postponed the hearing once again. She expressed her disappointment at the delays and hoped for an independent tribunal to take over the case.
The final verdict
The ITIA announced the verdict in Simona Halep’s case. An independent tribunal found Halep guilty of breaching the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP). The TADP found Halep on two counts of doping charges.
The first charge was related to the Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF). Roxadustat was found in the urine samples that were tested. The second charge was related to the irregularities in Simona’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).
The decision has come as a big blow to Simona Halep, who was preparing to return to the sport. However, she plans to contest this decision, stating that she refuses to accept this ban. She has faced criticism from her peers as soon as the news broke. The fight continues for Simona.