Simona Halep wants to prove her innocence

Simona Halep chats to the media

In the seven months since being temporarily suspended, Simona Halep has maintained that she did not “knowingly” use performance-enhancing substances. 

She is currently waiting for a hearing date for her doping case.

After giving a sample during the US Open last year, the former world No 1 was found to have the prohibited drug Roxadustat.

Halep has not competed since, and the case has not yet been heard before any official body or court.

“Knowingly, I have not taken any banned substance,” Halap told Tennis Majors in an interview published Thursday.

“I am a big supporter of clean sports and have always been against doping.

“I had no clue at the beginning about where this substance came from.”

Halep, who argues that scientists determined she had unintentionally consumed a tainted supplement, claimed the International Tennis Federation postponed one hearing scheduled for last month before cancelling another tribunal in February to conduct extra testing. She was mistaken in these comments as it is, in fact, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) that deal with doping issues.

“The next step is a hearing at the end of May, the 28th, but it is very fragile because the ITF (she should have said ITIA) said that they might cancel it as well,” Halep said.

“If they do that, it will be almost eight months since I’ve been provisionally suspended for the first time and I believe that it’s not fair to spend eight months without even being judged by the tribunal.

“It’s been seven months since I’ve been originally suspended even though I’ve had all the evidence since December. I’m not asking for special treatment. I just ask to be judged. How much longer is this going to take?”

Halep declared that she would “fight until the end” to clear her name after receiving a positive test in October of last year.

“A player that is provisionally suspended is entitled to get an expedited hearing,” she said Thursday.

“Everything takes so long. I asked the ITF to lift my sanction to be able to play but they also refused it.”

Prior to her suspension, Halep had risen back into the top 10 after falling out of the top 20 in 2020 due to injury issues.

However, as she waits to learn when she may return, the two-time Grand Slam champion is expected to drop even more from her current ranking of 26th.

“I really want to play again because I love this sport and I want to play for the big titles again,” Halep said.

“I have worked all my life for this. At this age (31), it’s really tough to lose days, weeks, and months. You are scared about the injuries.

“When you don’t have official matches, it is more risky. When time passes like this, it is harder to come back.”

Patients with renal issues are treated with Roxadustat, a medication that increases the generation of red blood cells. However the formula for the drug has been cribbed by shady chemists and it has become a substance used to illegally bolster aerobic performance.

The ITF issues this statement to clarify they aren’t involved in this case: “The ITF has had no involvement in the management of this case, as the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is managed and enforced by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) on behalf of the ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slams.”

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