Simona Halep provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned substance

Simona Halep press conference

Former World No 1 Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended for doping after testing positive for a banned substance, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Friday.

Halep’s sample, taken during the US Open, showed traces of Roxadustat, a drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells and is used in the treatment of patients with kidney problems, the ITIA said in a statement.

The Romanian recently underwent surgery and announced that she would be taking some time off from the game.

Halep declared her season over last month while also revealing that she had undergone a plastic surgery procedure.

According to the information provided, Halep tested positive for Roxadustat, an anti-anaemia drug which has been abused by athletes eager to boost performance.

The drug first came to WADA’s attention before it had even hit the market as it was detected among competitive cyclists.

Known to boost red-blood cell counts, athletes might use the substance to gain a boost in performance as more oxygen reaches their muscles during excercise.

A press release from the ITIA reads: “The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has confirmed that Simona Halep, a 31-year-old Romanian tennis player, has been provisionally suspended under Article 7.12.1 of the 2022 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP). The ITIA sent the player a pre-charge notice of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation on 7 October 2022 under Article 2.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in a Player’s Sample) and/or Article 2.2 (Use of a Prohibited Substance without a valid TUE).

“Halep, who has a WTA ranking of 9, provided a sample whilst competing at the US Open in August 2022.

“The sample was split into A and B samples and the subsequent analysis found that the A sample contained FG-4592 (Roxadustat), which is a prohibited substance listed in the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. Adverse Analytical Findings for non-specified substances carry a mandatory provisional suspension.

“The player exercised their right to request that the B sample was analysed, which confirmed the finding in the A sample. While provisionally suspended, the player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events organised by the governing bodies of the sport.

“The ITIA is the delegated third party, under the World Anti-Doping Code of the International Tennis Federation, the international governing body for the sport of tennis and signatory of the Code.

“The ITIA is responsible for the management and administration of anti-doping across professional tennis in accordance with the 2022 TADP.”