The most pessimistic scenario has been confirmed: the Romanian tennis player Simona Halep received a 4-year suspension for doping.
Simona Halep, two times winner of the Grand Slam, at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and former world number one, is going through a very difficult moment in her sports life. After a year in which she could not participate in tournaments, the Romanian tennis player was suspended for a period of four years for doping. The announcement was made by the International Tennis Integrity Agency. The Agency officials said that it was an independent tribunal that had suspended Halep for two separate violations of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program, one related to the identification of the banned substance called roxadustat at the 2022 US Open following an in-competition anti-doping test, and the other related to irregularities from her biological passport.
The biological passport is an electronic collection of the values of certain biological data, obtained from data collected throughout the athlete's career, from which some basic values can be established, and possible anomalies can be observed. The court decided that the player committed "intentional violations" of the Anti-Doping Regulation. The court accepted Simona's argument that she took contaminated food supplements but decided that the amount ingested by the player could not result in the concentration of roxadustat identified in the positive sample.
Simona Halep said she was "shocked and disappointed" by the decision and announced that she will challenge it at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. At the same time, she announced that she would sue the company that supplied her with contaminated food supplements. "Last year was the most difficult match of my life and unfortunately the struggle continues. I have dedicated my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and I am proud not to have ever taken, intentionally or not, a banned substance. I refuse to accept their decision of suspension for four years", said the Romanian tennis player in a communique. She claims that she presented the court with convincing evidence in her defense, including numerous legitimate questions about the conclusions of the biological passport tests.
Simona said she was grateful for the support she received from her family, friends and tennis fans from all over the world. The Romanian press is having a hard time accepting the shocking news of the punishment, one that, confirmed at the CAS – Court of Arbitration for Sport, would most likely mean the end of the career for the great glory of Romanian tennis and sports in general.
Honest commentators disavow, though, the conspiracy theory that is starting to emerge around the issue, a theory that many are tempted to adopt. The announcement of the suspension came in the same week in which Simona was officially out of the WTA ranking, due to the lack of points. A possible attempt to return, in October 2026, or earlier if the Swiss court reduces her sentence, would be, anyway, a Sisyphean task, which specialists do not see as possible for an athlete who, at the end of the month, turns 32. (LS)