Romanian tennis star Simona Halep has found her name dragged through the mud this week. Ever since the news of her doping ban broke, Halep’s world has turned upside-down. The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) found her guilty of two doping violations. But despite the verdict, Simona’s lawyer is confident they can overturn this decision.
The Romanian found herself in every athlete’s worst nightmare when she tested positive for Roxadustat at the US Open last year. It is an anti-anemia drug that boosts a player’s endurance. Halep was provisionally suspended for six months for the positive test.
The misery did not end for Halep, as experts found irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) too. It monitors blood indicators against a baseline, to reveal the effects of doping. With such incriminating evidence, Halep began what was easily the “Hardest match of her life.”
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 21, 2022
However, Halep still pleads innocence. In fact, her legal team gathered proof that will hopefully exonerate Halep. They were able to trace the Roxadustat back to a nutritional supplement she had consumed prior to her urine test.
Additionally, they enlisted the help of Professor Alvarez, the world’s leading toxicologist. Dr. Alvarez found only small traces of the drug in Halep’s hair sample. The quantity was too low to boost Halep’s performance. He is convinced the ITIA condemned an innocent woman.
Moreover, Roxadustat would have aggravated Halep’s existing thyroid condition. Simona Halep has since decided to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS). Her lawyer, Jacob Howard, is convinced that they will win as “We have the facts and the science on our side.”
Lawyers of Simona Halep call out ITIA
Halep and her team were confident that the ITIA would listen to their side of the case. However, the body basically discarded all the evidence they had gathered. Halep alleged that they judged her on scenarios, instead of the evidence.
Besides finding the source of the Roxadustat contamination, Halep’s lawyers think there might be foul play involved. Two of the three experts testing her ABP had marked her sample as ‘suspicious’. Jacobs alleges that once they had additional information and realized it was Halep’s sample, they changed it to ‘likely doping.‘
In a new twist to this story, Halep’s other lawyer, Bogdan Stoica, revealed the ITIA refused to cooperate with them. He further added that the ITIA destroys the athlete it investigates. “I think ITIA is not an institution aimed at finding out the truth, but at destroying the athletes it investigates,” he said (via Romania Journal).
These are trying times for Simona Halep, as her peers take digs at her. However, the former world number one has vowed not to go down without a fight.