IMAGE: Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended since October 2022. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images for Rediff Archives
Twice Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been banned until October 2026 for two separate anti-doping rule violations, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Romanian former Wimbledon and French Open champion has been provisionally suspended since October 2022 after testing positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat at the U.S. Open last year.
“The first (charge) related to an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the U.S. Open in 2022, carried out through regular urine testing during competition,” the ITIA said in a statement.
Halep has strongly denied knowingly taking the banned substance and said she had evidence to show that small amounts of the anaemia drug entered her system from a licensed supplement that was contaminated.
“The tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that they had taken a contaminated supplement, but determined the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample. ”
“The second charge related to irregularities in Halep’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP),” the ITIA added.
It said the ABP charge was also upheld as three independent experts were unanimous that “likely doping” was the explanation for the irregularities in Halep’s profile.