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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, October 21, 2022


Former world No. 1 Simona Halep is provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned substance at the US Open in August.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Simona Halep is provisionally suspended for a doping violation.

In a stunning development, former world No. 1 Halep has been suspended after testing positive for a banned substance at the US Open in August, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

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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 is ineligible to compete in pro events while serving the mandatory provisional suspension.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Halep issued a statement vehemently denying 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. 


A post shared by Simona Halep (@simonahalep)

The International Tennis Integrity Agency statement on Halep's suspension is here:

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has confirmed that Simona Halep, a 31-year-old Romanian tennis player, has been provisionally suspended under Article 7.12.1 of the 2022 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP). The ITIA sent the player a pre-charge notice of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation on 7 October 2022 under Article 2.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in a Player’s Sample) and/or Article 2.2 (Use of a Prohibited Substance without a valid TUE).

Halep, who has a WTA ranking of 9, provided a sample whilst competing at the US Open in August 2022. The sample was split into A and B samples and the subsequent analysis found that the A sample contained FG-4592 (Roxadustat), which is a prohibited substance listed in the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. Adverse Analytical Findings for non-specified substances carry a mandatory provisional suspension.

The player exercised their right to request that the B sample was analyzed, which confirmed the finding in the A sample. While provisionally suspended, the player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events organized by the governing bodies of the sport.

Taken orally, Roxadustat is most commonly used to treat anemia caused by chronic kidney disease. Because it can stimulate hemoglobin and production of red blood cells it is a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List as a Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF) Activating Agent. 

The ninth-ranked Romanian has posted a 39-11 record with two tournament titles this season.

Last month, Halep announced she was taking a break from the Tour while recovering from nose surgery.

The 31-year-old Halep underwent surgery to correct an issue that was hampering her breathing. Halep said she was struggling at times to breathe through a blocked nose during the US Open Series.

"I had been struggling for a while with nose problems and it got worse during the summer, especially in Washington," Halep posted on Twitter. "This problem made it hard to breathe and and even worse during the night as I was going through a complete blocked nose.

"The only way to solve the problem was to undergo a surgery. Everything went well. I will need a few weeks of rest before I can resume any physical activity. See you soon on the courts."

The 2019 Wimbledon winner won her 24th career title in Toronto in August. Halep conceded a walkover in her Cincinnati second round and was upset in the opening round of the US Open by 124th-ranked Ukranian qualifier Daria Snigur.

Tennis Express

Halep's coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has not yet publicly commented on this case.

One of the WTA Tour's most popular players, Halep consistently draws passionate fans waving Romanian flags and chanting "Simona! Simona!" at her matches all over the world.

Halep is the third former women's world No. 1 to be suspended on a doping violation in recent years.

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 been hit with doping suspensions. 


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