Two-time grand slam champion Simona Halep has been banned until October 2026 for two separate anti-doping rule violations, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Romanian – a Wimbledon and French Open champion – has received a four-year ban, but has already served one year having been provisionally suspended since October 2022, after testing positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat at the US Open last year.
“The first (charge) related to an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the US Open in 2022, carried out through regular urine testing during competition,” the ITIA said in a statement.
Halep has strongly denied knowingly taking the banned substance and said she had evidence to show that small amounts of the anaemia drug entered her system from a licensed supplement that was contaminated.
“The tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that they had taken a contaminated supplement, but determined the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample.”
“The second charge related to irregularities in Halep’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP),” the ITIA added.
It said the ABP charge was also upheld as three independent experts were unanimous that “likely doping” was the explanation for the irregularities in Halep’s profile.
Halep quickly announced in a statement that she would appeal the decision, saying: “Today, a tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announced a tentative decision in my case.
“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.”