Offbeat news from the world of sport
Thank you for subscribing!
Offbeat news from the world of sport
We have more newsletters
Two-time Grand Slam-winner Simona Halep has been banned from tennis for four years after failing a drugs tests at last year's US Open.
The 31-year-old hit headlines in October 2022 after it was reported she had tested positive for the banned anti-anaemia drug roxadustat after competing at Flushing Meadows. It was shortly after the US Open that Halep announced she would skip the rest of the playing calendar having undergone nose surgery.
After winning the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, Grand Slam results have dried up somewhat for the Romanian. She hasn't featured in a major final since clinching the crown at SW19, where she beat Serena Williams in straight sets.
Roxadustat is prohibited by the World Ant-Doping Agency (WADA) due to its ability to increase a user's red blood cell count – and by extension their cardiovascular potential. Its most common use is to treat anaemia, which can be caused by chronic kidney failure.
READ MORE: Moderna awkwardly give 'shot of the day' to unvaccinated Novak Djokovic after US Open win
Halep has since responded to her punishment and maintains her innocence in regards to the adverse findings, insisting she intends to fight the ban.
"Today, a tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announced a tentative decision in my case," read her statement. "The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues.
"I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance. I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban."
Sky Sports is bringing you 500 live football games to watch, as well access to Cricket, Golf, F1, Boxing, NFL, NBA and more across eight dedicated channels. Sky Sports is the only way to watch all the action this year.
£22 a month
Aryna Sabalenka smashes racquet in locker room after US Open defeat – but fans love it
Following the initial revelations after last year's US Open, five-time Grand Slam finalist Halep was handed a provisional suspension by the International Tennis Integrity Agency. It was then that the ITIA said it discovered further irregularities in her biological passport, with the player having submitted 51 blood samples for the investigation.
"I am eternally grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from my family, friends, and tennis fans around the world," her response continued. "I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court.
"I intend to appeal this decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question."
The new football season is nearly upon us and with 500 live games to watch, as well access to Cricket, Golf, F1, Boxing, NFL and the NBA across eight dedicated channels, Sky Sports is the only way to watch all the action.
Get Sky Sports from £22 a month
The WTA said it "will support the decisions reached through the process" and encouraged players to be aware of the sport's anti-doping laws. If the ban is upheld, Halep will be banned until October 2026 – four years from when she was first given a provisional suspension.
Set to turn 32 at the end of September, the suspension calls into question whether fans will see Halep play competitive tennis ever again. Former foe Williams was 40 when she hung up her racquet, but the American was a special talent who had a shot at conquering the all-time Grand Slam title record.
Halep and her team argued in May 2023 that a tainted supplement was the cause of her irregular sample. In response, the ITIA accepted one test was indeed contaminated but contended that the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample."
Karen Moorhouse, chief executive of the ITIA, said: “After a complex and rigorous hearing process, we welcome the independent tribunal’s decision. The volume of evidence for the tribunal to consider in both the roxadustat and ABP proceedings was substantial."
Former WTA superstar and six-time Grand Slam-winner Maria Sharapova was previously banned in 2016 after she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. After originally being suspended for two years, her sentence was reduced to 15 months following an appeal through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Moorhouse went on to say the proper processes had been followed in discerning Halep's case and punishment. She's one of the highest-profile players of the modern era to be test positive for a banned substance, and the severity of her suspension is a shock for the sport and its wider community.
- Breaking News
Source: Read Full Article