Simona Halep given four-year ban for two ‘intentional’ doping offences

Simona Halep in action
Simona Halep on court

Simona Halep has been handed a four-year ban from tennis for “intentional” doping, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has confirmed.

The two-time major champion will appeal the decision and has denied having “knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance.”

The Romanian, who triumphed at the All England Club in 2019, had been provisionally suspended since last October having tested positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.

She was subsequently charged with irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) and both charges have been upheld following an independent tribunal.

Halep quickly announced in a statement that she would appeal the decision, saying: “Today, a tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announced a tentative decision in my case.

“The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues. I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis.

“I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance. I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban.”

The tribunal, held in June 2023, heard from expert scientific witnesses on behalf of Halep and the ITIA, with the player also giving evidence directly to the panel as part of proceedings.

Karen Moorhouse, Chief Executive Officer at the ITIA, said: “After a complex and rigorous hearing process, we welcome the independent tribunal’s decision. The volume of evidence for the tribunal to consider in both the roxadustat and ABP proceedings was substantial.

“The ITIA has followed the proper processes as we would with any other individual – in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code – fulfilling our purpose and responsibility to uphold the principle of fair competition, on behalf of the sport.

“The panel recognised that appropriate procedure had been followed within the written decision. We do understand the significant public interest in these cases and remain committed to being as transparent as possible and the full decision will be published in due course.”

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.

Halep has not competed since her opening round defeat at last year’s US Open.

READ MORE: Simona Halep’s former coach says ‘there is NO chance’ former world No 1 ‘knowingly took banned substance’