Tennis star Simona Halep suspended for doping with a prohibited substance

"Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth. I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life," Simona Halep informed in a statement on her social media handles.

The tennis world was left shocked at the start of the weekend when Former World No.1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep of Romania announced that she has tested positive for a prohibited substance and was provisionally suspended.

Halep, who won the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon women's singles titles, tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in extremely low quantity in a sample provided at the U.S Open 2022.

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"Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth. I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life," Halep informed in a statement on her social media handles.

"Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with. Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed," the 31-year-old Romanian star said in the statement.

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Halep professed her innocence and pledged to "fight until the end" to prove that she has not taken the substance knowingly.

Also read | Serena overcomes Danka Kovinic's challenge; Simona Halep bows out of US Open

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"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," she said.

"It's not about the titles or the money. It's about honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years," she added.

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The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), the delegated third party, under the World Anti-Doping Code of the International Tennis Federation that is responsible for the management and administration of anti-doping across professional tennis, has confirmed that her 'B' Sample too has tested positive for the same prohibited substance.

"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 informed in a release on its website.

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The rule governs the use of a prohibited substance without a valid TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption).

Also read | Simona Halep moves into Toronto final; set to enter Top-10 in latest WTA rankings

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"Halep, who has a WTA ranking of 9, provided a sample whilst competing at the US Open in August 2022...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 ITIA said.

Halep exercised her "right to request that the B sample was analysed, which confirmed the finding in the A sample", the ITIA said.

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It informed that while provisionally suspended, the player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events organised by the governing bodies of the sport.

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