Simona Halep breaks the silence on Patrick Mouratoglou’s role in her doping ban

Ewan West
Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou chatting
Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou at practice

Simona Halep has defended her former coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who accepted responsibility for her tennis doping ban. 

The former world No 1 played down claims she was “manipulated” by Mouratoglou and revealed the Frenchman had not offered her any illegal substances.

Halep was given a four-year ban from tennis in September last year after testing positive for the banned blood doping agent Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.

In March, the Romanian’s ban was reduced to nine months following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This allowed Halep to return to tennis with immediate effect as she has already served more than nine months of her ban, having been unable to play since her positive test in August 2022.

Halep worked with Mouratoglou from 2022 until her suspension and the leading coach took the blame for providing her with a contaminated supplement.

“We brought her collagen from a company,” Mouratoglou explained in a video shared on his Instagram account in November.

“This collagen happened to be contaminated. There was no way to know it. But I feel responsible for what happened because it’s my team—so me, basically—who brought her this collagen.”

READ MORE: Simona Halep describes discovering doping violation as ‘like a truck hit you’

Halep refused to blame Mouratoglou, though, as she addressed the role of her former coach in her taking the banned substance.

“Definitely was not an intentional mistake or how should I say? That he wanted to make something wrong to me. No,” the Romanian told Tennis Channel.

“And I heard many voices [say] that I was manipulated by him. That’s not true. He was my coach and I always trusted the people I work with.

“So I really believe that if you don’t trust in your team, you cannot perform at your maximum level. So I trusted, I work with his academy with his people and everything was fine.

“So it was nothing that he offered me to take something or to give me something. No, everything was clear about doping, so it’s nothing that he did it in purpose, nothing.”

The two-time Grand Slam champion also expressed her appreciation for the support she received on her return to tennis at the Miami Open in March.

“I felt so much love in Miami. When I was traveling with my mum, I told her that I’m very nervous how it’s going to be, how people will react. But it was amazing,”

“Also the security people, the people that are working for the tournament, the players, the coaches, all, they received me with a lot of love and appreciation.

“It was great to be back and I felt relieved. I felt the freedom again to be able to go to the tournament and to be able to play, practice, the same routine, locker room. So it was a great experience and I’m really thankful that people welcomed me so beautiful.”

Halep was forced to retire when leading 7-5, 2-3 against McCartney Kessler in the second match of her comeback at the Paris Challenger today.

READ MORE: Simona Halep makes ‘baggage’ admission as she reveals Ashleigh Barty among those who supported her during ban