Former world number 1 Simona Halep provisionally suspended for doping

Romania’s two-time major winner Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended after she tested positive for the banned blood booster roxadustat, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said Friday.

Halep, ninth in the world, was tested at the US Open and both her A and B samples confirmed the presence of roxadustat, an anemia drug that stimulates red blood cell production, as well as the banned substance Erythropoietin (EPO).

“Simona Halep, a 31-year-old Romanian tennis player, has been provisionally suspended under Article 7.12.1 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program (TADP) 2022,” the agency said in a statement.

“The sample was split into A and B samples, and subsequent analysis revealed that the A sample contained FG-4592 (Roxadustat), a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 2022 Prohibited List.”

The 2019 Wimbledon champion later asked for analysis of her B sample, confirming the initial findings.

Former world number one Halep described the ban as the “biggest shock of her life” and denied that she had knowingly used a banned substance.

“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth. I have been informed that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low amount, she wrote on Twitter.

“Throughout my career, the idea of ​​cheating has never crossed my mind because it totally contradicts all the values ​​I was raised with. Faced with such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed.”

Halep, who also won at Roland Garros in 2018, added that her battle was not about “titles or money” but about her honor and hoped the truth would eventually come out.

Maria Sharapova was the latest high-profile tennis player to be implicated in a doping scandal after the Russian tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open and was initially banned for two years before being reduced to 15 months.

Halep’s suspension means she cannot participate in or participate in sanctioned events organized by the governing bodies of tennis.

Halep, the winner of two titles this season, ended her season early after undergoing nose surgery last month to treat breathing difficulties.

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