Martina Navratilova offers her backing to suspended Simona Halep

Simona Halep press conference

Martina Navratilova has offered some qualified support to Simona Halep as the Romanian struggles to clear her name of doping charges.

Navratilova says that she is inclined to believe the athlete in this case and says that it is made very difficult for an athlete to prove an accidental ingestion case.

The former Grand Slam winner believes that few athletes would be willing to assume the health risks of abusing the drug Roxadustat.

She believes that the benefits for a tennis player are heavily outweighed by its downsides and side effects.

“I have always wanted to offer the benefit of the doubt to the athlete. The doping issue sucks because it concerns the only field in which you are judged guilty until you can prove your innocence,” Navratilova wrote on X.

As an athlete, even if legal, considering the side effects of this drug, I don’t think anyone would be eager to take it.”

Halep’s former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou came out swinging for the former world No 1.

He believes that the system is in need of reform and is currently ruining the careers of innocent players.

Mouratoglou has suggested that there was some sort of vindictive element to the way the case was pursued and the treatment of Halep.

“I cannot believe the decision that the ITIA took today regarding Simona Halep’s case.

“I am extremely shocked.

“Throughout the years, I have observed the methods and behavior of an organization that should treat players fairly and seek to establish the truth.

“I don’t think the ITIA sought the truth in Simona’s case, and I don’t think they treated her acceptably.

I hope the WTA, ATP and PTPA do their best to change a system that is destroying the careers of innocent players.”

Halep was handed a four-year ban for doping offences which she denies and the case has divided the tennis world.

She had failed a drug test at the 2022 US Open but had to wait over a year to finally get handed a judgement in her case.

She continues to plead her innocence in the case.

“I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life,” Halep said of her initial notification.

“Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with.

“Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed. I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that, sooner or later, the truth will come out.

“It’s not about the titles or money. It’s about honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years.”

READ MORE: Timeline of Simona Halep’s ITIA battle