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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, May 19, 2023


Simona Halep, who has been provisionally suspended since October 2022 on a doping charge, has been hit with a separate doping charge.

Photo credit: Getty

Simona Halep now faces a double dose of doping charges.

Former world No. 1 Halep, who has been provisionally suspended since October 2022 after testing positive for the banned drug Roxadustat, has been hit with a separate doping charge, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced today.

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"Romanian tennis player Simona Halep has been charged with a further and separate breach of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program (TADP), relating to irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)," the ITIA announced in a statement.

The ITIA emphasized this doping violation is different and separate from the existing Roxadustat charge from August 2022 which launched Halep’s original provisional suspension.

Fighting for her competitive future, the 31-year-old Halep hit back at the charges slamming the ITIA for what she calls "harassment." 

Halep claims she is the victim of contamination and says "three world renowned experts" have "clearly established that I have been the victim of a contamination."

"Once again, all my life I have been totally against any sort of cheating," Halep said. 

This has become a contentious case with Halep suggesting the ITIA has intentionally stalled her case.

"I look forward to finally being able to present my case at my hearing that is scheduled at the end of May after several delays by the ITIA," Halep said.

The ITIA counters it "would be inappropriate" to comment on details of the charge until Halep and her team have been given opportunity to officially respond.

“We understand that today’s announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation," Nicole Sapstead, Senior Director for Anti-Doping at the ITIA said. "From the outset of this process – and indeed any other at the ITIA – we have remained committed to engaging with Ms. Halep in an empathetic, efficient, and timely manner.

“We do, of course, appreciate there is a great deal of media interest in these cases. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on specifics until the conclusion of the process, but we will continue to engage with the Sport Resolutions independent tribunal and Ms. Halep’s representatives as expeditiously as possible.”

The 2019 Wimbledon champion has strenuously denied she knowingly doped at any time.

"I have been provisionally suspended for 8 months even though I have sent all the evidence regarding my contamination to the ITF last December," Halep told Tennis Majors in an interview last month. "I don’t ask for any special treatment. I just ask to be able to get judged by the Tribunal.

"I feel it is unfair and I am asking: how long is it going to last?"


A post shared by Simona Halep (@simonahalep)

This latest doping charge comes nearly seven months to the day after Halep was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned substance at the 2022 US Open.

Halep submitted a urine sample that tested positive for Roxadustat at the Flushing Meadows major. Halep requested her B sample be tested. Subsequent testing showed that B sample also contained the banned substance.

Halep has been ineligible to compete in pro events while serving the mandatory provisional suspension.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Halep vehemently denies she knowingly doped calling her positive test "the biggest shock of my life."

"I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that sooner or later the truth will come out," Halep posted on Instagram.

In the aftermath of Fernando Verdasco's two-month suspension after his "inadvertent" positive test for an ADHD medication last fall, Aussie John Millman came to Halep's defense.

Millman said he's convinced Halep is innocent because if she really wanted to dope she could essentially have done so using the Therapeutic Use Exemption loophole he suggests some veterans already use to beat the system.

Halep is the third former WTA world No. 1 to be hit with a doping suspension.  

Back in 2007, Martina Hingis, former world No. 1 in singles and doubles, was banned for two years after trace amounts of cocaine metabolites were found in a urine sample she submitted.

Hingis denied knowingly ingesting cocaine, but said legal costs were too high to fight her two-year ban so she retired instead. Hall of Famer Hingis returned to tennis in 2013 and enjoyed a successful post-suspension career winning Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles titles.

Former No. 1 Maria Sharapova, one of a few champions to complete the career Grand Slam, was hit with a two-year ban after testing positive for meldonium back in 2016. On appeal, that ban was reduced to 15 months and though Sharapova returned to competitive tennis she never reached the Grand Slam glory she attained before her ban.

Halep's suspension means both women who played the epic 2014 Roland Garros final that saw Sharapova out-duel Halep 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 on one of the hottest final days in French Open history, have both served doping suspensions.


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