Simona Halep reflects on ‘harrowing’ experience of doping ban as she awaits her fate

Ewan West
Simona Halep handed lengthy drugs ban
Simona Halep handed four-year drugs ban

Simona Halep has described being unable to play tennis for the last year and a half due to her doping ban as a “nightmare” and a “harrowing time.”

The two-time major champion declared she is waiting for the decision of her appeal with her “head held high” and expressed confidence in a positive outcome by saying “good and truth always prevail.”

The former world No 1 was handed a four-year ban from the sport for “intentional” doping offences by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) in September. The Romanian denied having “knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance” and appealed the decision.

Halep appeared before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) from Wednesday February 7 to Friday February 9 for her appeal hearing, which took place at the CAS Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is still unclear when Halep will learn whether or not her appeal has been successful.

In a statement after the final day of the hearing, Halep said: “This hearing provided me with the opportunity to present my position and defend my innocence.

“My confidence in the prevalence of the truth remains intact. I look forward to reclaiming my place on the tennis courts.”

After the hearing concluded on Friday, CAS said in a statement: “The parties have been informed that the CAS Panel in charge of the matter will now deliberate and prepare the Arbitral Award containing its decision and grounds.”

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In an Instagram post, Halep reflected on the experience of her ban and expressed her appreciation for everyone who had supported her.

“The nightmare that I have lived for a year and half has finished. I had the chance to present my defense in front of TAS (Swiss acronym for CAS), to show that I never did any kind of doping. This is what I have said from the first day that I was accused,” the Romanian said.

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“Now I am waiting for the decision with my head held high and I wanted to thank you, my fans, players, former players, legends of this sport, my sponsors and everyone else for your amazing support, all the messages and videos that you did for me during this harrowing time that I had.

“I thank you for your unconditional trust. This support has meant the world to me and gave me strength to keep fighting each day to show the truth! I will share the news with my case with you all as soon as I receive it. I wish you all the very best. Good and truth always prevail.”

Prior to her ban, Halep had been provisionally suspended since October 2022 after she tested positive for the banned substance Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.

The 32-year-old, who was subsequently charged with irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), has not played since her opening round defeat to Daria Snigur at the 2022 US Open.

The ITIA confirmed in September that both the charges for Halep’s positive test for Roxadustat, and for the irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport, had been upheld, with an independent tribunal suspending her 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.

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