Tennis news: Former No. 1 Simona Halep gets a four-year ban for doping

(Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
(Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Simona Halep hasn’t played a WTA match since the 2022 US Open when she lost in the first round to qualifier Daria Snigur. That loss was surprising since she had won the National Bank Open just a few weeks before. But Simona Halep lost a lot more than a match at last year’s US Open as she also tested positive for the prohibited substance roxadustat and later had issues with her athlete biological passport (ABP).

Now that match will likely be the last one that the former top-ranked WTA player participates in on the tour level. Simona Halep will turn 32 years old in late September and she has now received a four-year ban by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). Halep immediately announced she would appeal the ban. Since she has already been suspended for a year, she will be eligible to return to tennis in October 2026.

By then Halep will be 35 years old and she might have been at the end of her tennis career anyway. Plus, to be fair, what tournament would want to have Simona Halep back? That would be a black stain on the tournament itself.

Simona Halep receives four-year ban for doping

In announcing the ban, an independent tribunal for the ITIA said it sifted through more than 8,000 pages of evidence and sat through two days of scientific expert testimony. The problem the tribunal had with Halep wasn’t the Romanian’s story that she had accidentally ingested a contaminated supplement but that she had tested for such a high amount of roxadustat that there was little chance her taking the substance was an accident.

Roxadustat is commonly used in Europe to treat anemia but is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list because athletes can use the substance to increase hemoglobin and the production of red blood cells. This could lead to an artificially increased amount of stamina.

Simona Halep might fight the ban, and maybe the ban will be decreased. But based on the ruling and the amount of roxadustat Halep ingested, she does appear guilty. In the eyes of a governing body of tennis, she certainly isn’t innocent.

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