Grand Slam winner shares support for Simona Halep and slams her doping ban

Ewan West
Simona Halep accepts the applause
Simona Halep on court

Marin Cilic has expressed his support for Simona Halep and criticised her four-year ban from tennis for violations of anti-doping regulations.

The 2014 US Open champion urged Halep to “stay strong” and declared that the ruling of the International Tennis Integrity Agency “counts for nothing.”

Halep had been provisionally suspended since last October having tested positive for the banned substance Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open. She was subsequently charged with irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).

The ITIA confirmed on Tuesday that both charges had been upheld, with an independent tribunal suspending Halep for four years for breaches of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP).

Roxadustat is a substance legitimately used for the treatment of anaemia but is on the WADA Prohibited Substance list as it is considered a blood doping agent, which increases haemoglobin and the production of red blood cells.

The two-time major winner quickly announced in a statement that she would appeal the ban and denied “knowingly or intentionally” using any prohibited substance. The 31-year-old has not played since her opening round defeat to Daria Snigur at last year’s US Open.

In a reply to Halep’s statement on X / Twitter, Cilic shared a message of support to the Romanian and hit out at the decision from the ITIA.

“Stay strong Simona, their ruling counts for nothing,!” said the Croatian in a tweet.

Former world No 3 Cilic was handed a nine-month ban in 2013 after testing positive for traces of banned stimulant nikethamide at the ATP tournament in Munich.

Cilic claimed this was due to him inadvertently ingesting the substance in glucose tablets and had his ban reduced to four months after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“Unbeknownst to me, the glucose tablets contained a substance that is banned in competition,” explained Cilic at the time.

“I wish to emphasize that I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any banned substances in my life and that I am opposed to any use of performance-enhancing substances in sport.”

The 34-year-old has competed in just two tournaments this year due to a knee injury, having underwent knee surgery in January. The Croatian made his return at his home ATP event in Umag in July, but has not played since due to the knee issue.

READ MORE: Time line of the shocking Simona Halep drug ban – and what comes next