Simona Halep is currently serving a four-year ban for testing positive for the substance Roxadustat. The ban is retroactive to October 2022 so Halep could return to tennis in 2026, but she will be 35 years old and not having played professionally for four years. One would not expect her to reach her previous level ever again of being a player consistently ranked in the top 10 on the WTA tour.
There is still hope for Halep, however. She has disputed knowing about taking the banned substance and feels her ban should be either completely done away with or reduced. Her former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has even accepted blame for Halep's positive test as he was in charge of her diet. Supposedly, the Roxadustat was in some collagen that Halep took so, allegedly, Halep would have no way of knowing she ingested it.
Roxadustat is prescribed to people who need to increase their production of red blood cells. An increase in these cells can lead to better oxygen intake. For an athlete who plays an endurance sport, which tennis ultimately is due to all the running, an artificial spike in oxygen can help with better endurance and create an unfair advantage.
Simona Halep awaits the decision on the appeal of her four-year ban
Still, Halep says she never meant to take the banned substance and wanted to have a hearing to appeal her suspension. This took place last week before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. After the hearing, Halep met with a small group of reporters and said she "believes the truth is going to come out" and would await the ruling from CAS.
Halep did not know the timeframe for when the ruling might be announced, but the decision is likely to be given in late March or early April. The court is unlikely to remove her ban altogether as the original decision was unanimous and there were a reported 51 different tests that came back positive for Halep. This might imply she had taken Roxadustat on more than one occasion.
She also hopes to play as early as the Paris Olympics in late July, though this is probably unlikely as well. The best outcome for the player might be to hope the suspension is reduced by a year. This would allow her to return in 2025. Whether that happens or not we should know in about two months.