Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been charged with a second doping offence relating to ‘irregularities in her athlete biological passport’.
Halep has been provisionally suspended since October of last year having tested positive for banned substance roxadustat at the US Open. Roxadustat stimulates production of hemoglobin and red blood cells.
The two charges which Halep is faced with are separate from each other.
After being hit with a second charge, Halep released a furious statement on social media, in which she accused the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) of ‘harassment’ and ‘motivation to prove me guilty of something I never did’.
‘Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life,’ she said.
Former Wimbledon winner Simona Halep has been charged with a second doping offence
‘Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven’t EVER even thought of taking any illicit substance.
‘I tried two times to have the opportunity to be judged by an Independent Tribunal and the ITIA has constantly found reasons to postpone.
‘Now that we have clearly established that I have been victim of a contamination, they came up with a so-called not normal evolution of my blood. Three world renowned experts that have studied my blood tests have been extremely clear that my blood is not totally normal.
‘I feel helpless facing such harassment and a motivation on their behalf to prove me guilty of something I never did. Once again, all my life I have been totally against any sort of cheating. It doesn’t align with my values.
‘The only thing I hope for, at this point, is to have the possibility to finally access the independent and impartial judges in a Tribunal, that will give me the chance to prove my innocence.
‘I have full trust in justice and 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.
‘The support of my loved ones, the tennis world and my fans have given me the courage to continue to practice every day and fight for the truth. I cannot thank you more for that. Love, Simona’.
Nicole Sapstead, Senior Director for Anti-Doping at the ITIA, said: ‘We understand that today’s announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation. 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.
Halep has been provisionally suspended since October having tested positive for banned substance roxadustat
‘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.’
Last month Halep called on tennis’s anti-doping organisation to give her the chance to clear her name.
Halep denies having taken a banned substance. She also stated that she has evidence which shows low quantities of roxadustat entered her body due to an authorised substance which was contaminated.
Halep told Tennis Majors: ‘I didn’t want to get out and talk because it was very emotional.
‘Actually, I couldn’t handle it very well. But now I feel the need to speak out loud to my supporters, my fans, and to the public because I am sure they really want to know why it’s taking so long and I really felt the need to do that.
In 2019 Halep secured glory at Wimbledon, while she won the French Open the previous year
‘The ITF requested that the hearing on March 24th should be cancelled,’ Halep added. ‘I did not agree with that because as the rule says, a player that is provisionally suspended is entitled to get an expedited hearing. Everything takes so long.
‘I asked the ITF to lift my sanction to be able to play but they also refused it.’
Halep says she has undertaken 10 tests since her positive result, with all of them coming back negative. She now hopes to have a hearing in May but fears that may also be cancelled.
‘I believe that it’s not fair to spend eight months without even being judged by the Tribunal. Emotionally, the whole period has not been easy,’ the 31-year-old Halep said.
‘I’m not asking for special treatment. I just ask to be judged. How much longer is this going to take?’