Ashleigh Barty hopes Simona Halep gets to explain her side – ‘I love Simo and I respect Simo’

Ashleigh Barty addresses the media

Former world No 1 Ashleigh Barty has given her support to Simona Halep as the two-time Grand Slam winner continues the battle to clear her name following a failed drugs test.

Halep tested positive for the anti-anaemia drug Roxadustat during the US Open in August last year and two months later she was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) after her second sample returned a similar positive result.

The Romanian protested her innocence since the results were made public, but seven months later she is still facing an uphill battle to clear her name. She is due to before a tribunal at the end of May, although it remains to be seen if that hearing will go ahead as there have been several delays.

During a recent interview with Tennis Majors, 24-time WTA Tour singles title winner Halep insisted: “Knowingly, I have not taken any banned substance.

“I am a big supporter of clean sports and have always been against doping. I had no clue at the beginning about where this substance came from.”

She added: “A player that is provisionally suspended is entitled to get an expedited hearing.

“Everything takes so long. I asked the ITF to lift my sanction to be able to play but they also refused it.”

When the initial reports came out that Halep failed a drugs test, the tennis community was stunned as the former world No 1’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou as well as her former mentor Darren Cahill both backed the 31-year-old to clear her name.

And now her former rival and colleague Barty has also expressed her hope that Halep will be allowed to share her side of the story and hopefully return to the sport “she absolutely loves”.

“I love Simo and I respect Simo. I’ve spoken to her a little bit over the last 12 months or so, just checking in to see how she is going. She is an exceptional person,” the retired three-time Grand Slam winner told The Guardian.

“I really sincerely hope that she has an opportunity to have her say and to explain her side, because there are always two sides to every story. I think you’d be struggling to find anyone who wouldn’t want to see her back out there doing what she absolutely loves, which is competing on a big stage against the best in the world.”

READ MORE: Simona Halep gets more vocal backing as suspension continues