Former world No 1 hit with new doping issue in fresh hammer blow

Simona Halep chats to the media

Former Wimbledon champion Simona Halep is facing a fresh doping issue after the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) confirmed she will need to explain irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).

Halep has been provisionally suspended since October 2022, as a result of testing positive for prohibited substance Roxadustat at the US Open in August of last year.

She has been fighting those charges and has continued to insist she has not taken any banned substances, but the ITIA have now confirmed they are looking at new charges.

The ABP programme, developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency and incorporated into the TADP under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), is a method by which anti-doping organisations monitor various blood parameters over time, to identify potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs).

The additional charge of an Adverse Passport Finding was based on an assessment of Ms. Halep’s ABP profile by an independent ABP Expert Panel. That charge is separate and in addition to the existing Roxadustat charge from August 2022 which triggered Ms. Halep’s original provisional suspension.

Nicole Sapstead, Senior Director for Anti-Doping at the ITIA, said: “We understand that today’s announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation.

“From the outset of this process – and indeed any other at the ITIA – we have remained committed to engaging with Ms. Halep in an empathetic, efficient, and timely manner.

“We do, of course, appreciate there is a great deal of media interest in these cases.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on specifics until the conclusion of the process, but we will continue to engage with the Sport Resolutions independent tribunal and Ms. Halep’s representatives as expeditiously as possible.”

Halep’s only public statements on the case have stated her insistence that she has not taken a banned substance.

“Emotionally, the whole period has not been easy and I just felt the need to speak out loud to my fans, to my supporters, and actually to the whole public,” said Halep, in an interview with Tennis Majors.

“I had never heard about (Roxadustat) it so I didn’t know how I could take it, and actually how it could be in my urine.

“After a lot of work they found out that there was a contamination, a supplement contamination, and that’s why the quantity was so, so low in my body.

“I’m not asking for special treatment. I just ask to be judged. How much longer is this going to take?”

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 TADP.

Halep has received support from some in the tennis community, with the legendary Chris Evert among those who have sympathised with her position.

Yet the list of charges she is fighting has now grown, with the latest ITIA announcement placing the former world No 1 deeper into the mire.

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