Simona Halep’s mentors come to her defence – ‘My belief and support of Simona is unwavering’

Simona Halep in action

Simona Halep’s former and current coaches have expressed their support following the fresh twist to her doping suspension.

The two-time Grand Slam winner has been sidelined since last year after she was provisionally suspended having returned a positive test for the substance Roxadustat at the US Open in August.

Halep immediately protested her innocence and vowed to clear her name, but she is yet to face a tribunal and then suffered another setback on Friday after the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced a new case against her.

According to the ITIA, irregularities have been found in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) – a programme developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, with the latest charge separate and in addition to the existing Roxadustat case.

The Romanian issued a statement accusing the ITIA of “harassment”, stating: “I feel helpless facing such harassment and a motivation on their behalf to prove me guilty of something I never did.”

Darren Cahill, who coached Halep when she won the 2018 French Open and became No 1 in the world, insisted after the initial charge in October last year that “there was NO chance” that Halep “knowingly took banned substance”.

And he is sticking to his stance.

“I stand by every single word of my original statement way back in October. My belief and support of Simona is unwavering,” the Australian wrote on Twitter.

“I look forward to her having the chance to present her case to the independent panel asap.

Halep’s current coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who also mentored 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams during her career, also issued a lengthy statement to back the 31-year-old.

“Her honesty and righteousness is undoubtably [sic] unwavering. I know there is NO WAY she would have EVER done anything that would have been illegal,” he wrote. “The support of the world of tennis for her has been extremely strong, because people who know her are convinced that she would have never done what she is accused of.

“Since the day the ITIA has charged her, I have been and will continue to be next to her every single day to support her in her fight for the truth. First I want to say that I am a strong advocate for a clean sport. I believe that tennis needs an anti-doping system that is able to chase the cheaters.”

Mouratoglou also expressed his disappointment with the way the case has been handled as Halep has had several hearings postponed since the initial charge was brought against her.

The Frenchman added: “I am extremely shocked by the way this case has been conducted. I thought that the ITIA would pursue the goal to establish the truth, but they clearly try to prove her guilty even though she has been able to show multiple evidence of her innocence since December 2022….

“This last charge that has been sent to her yesterday which is totally linked with the first case is a pure interpretation of her blood passport. In other words, the ITIA hasn’t found any illegal substance in her blood but just states that her blood parameters are “suspicious”.

“Well renowned expert who have checked on them, have established that this statement is totally wrong and a biased interpretation, and that her blood parameters are perfectly normal.”

“Simona clearly expressed that she doesn’t ask for any special treatment but the application of the rules that state that she is entitled to be judged by an independant Tribunal.”