Former tennis world number one Simona Halep was banned for four years on Tuesday (September 13th, 2023) for doping.
As the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced that an independent court has ruled twice Grand Slam-Winner from Romania found guilty on two counts.
The 31-year-old has been provisionally banned since last October after testing positive for the banned substance roxadustat. Roxadustat increases the number of red blood cells and, similar to EPO, leads to better oxygenation.
An appeal is still possible
Finally, in May, she was charged with another anti-doping program violation related to irregularities in her athlete biological passport. Halep, the 2018 French Open and won Wimbledon a year later, is therefore banned until October 6, 2026. The Romanian can still appeal against the verdict.
Halep had always protested her innocence in both cases and explained the positive doping sample by saying that she had been a victim of contamination. The court accepted this argument, but at the same time found that the amount the player allegedly took could not have led to the roxadustat concentration found in the doping sample, ITIA said.
Halep announces appeal
As expected, Halep announced that he would appeal. “Last year was the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues,” she said after the verdict: “I have dedicated my life to the beautiful sport of tennis. I take the rules that apply to our sport very seriously and “I am proud that I have never knowingly or intentionally used a banned substance. I refuse to accept the decision of a four-year ban.”