"I refuse to accept their decision,” the two-time Grand Slam winner wrote on Instagram Tuesday
Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep has been suspended from professional tennis for four years over doping violations, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced Tuesday.
The Romanian tennis star “was charged with two separate breaches” of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP), according to a statement by the ITIA.
It followed the convening of an impartial panel in London on June 28 and 29, that heard testimony “from expert scientific witnesses on behalf of Halep and the ITIA,” with Halep speaking to the panel as part of the process, the statement added.
On Monday, the panel confirmed that Halep “committed intentional Anti-Doping Rule Violations,” partly through “the presence and use of roxadustat” at the US Open in 2022.
According to the ITIA, Roxadustat is a substance "legitimately used for the treatment of anemia" but is on the list of Prohibited Substances compiled by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as it is "considered a blood doping agent."
The ITIA report added Tuesday that they also recorded the “use of a prohibited substance or method” in 2022 “based on collection and analysis of 51 blood samples provided by the player as part of the ABP (Athlete Biological Passport) program.”
“After a complex and rigorous hearing process, we welcome the independent tribunal’s decision,” Karen Moorhouse, Chief Executive Officer at the ITIA said in the statement. “The volume of evidence for the tribunal to consider in both the roxadustat and ABP proceedings was substantial.”
Halep refuted the findings in a lengthy Instagram statement Tuesday, writing that the ITIA “announced a tentative decision in my case.”
“I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis,” she wrote. “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.”
“My representatives and I presented the ITIA and the tribunal with compelling evidence in support of my defense,” the Romanian tennis star added, “including multiple legitimate questions regarding the conclusions” of the testing.
“While I am grateful to finally have an outcome following numerous unfounded delays and a feeling of living in purgatory for over a year, I am both shocked and disappointed by their decision,” she continued.
Halep added that she “adjusted” her “nutritional supplements,” and “none of the listed ingredients included any prohibited substances,” although “one of them was contaminated with roxadustat.”
“Despite this evidence, the ITIA brought an ABP charge only after its expert group learned my identity, causing two out of three to suddenly change their opinion in favor of ITIA's allegations,” she wrote.
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“I am eternally grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from my family, friends, and tennis fans around the world,” she concluded. “I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court.”
Halep made tennis history as the first Romanian woman to win the Wimbledon singles title (2019) — where she beat Serena Williams in the final — and be listed as the world's No. 1 ranked player in 2017 and 2018. She also won the French Open in 2018.
"Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once," Halep wrote.
"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 continued, noting that her motivation wasn’t "about the titles or the money."
"It's about honor, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years," she wrote.
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