Simona Halep, a former world No. 1 player, has been suspended after testing positive for a banned substance at the U.S. Open in September.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), found Halep tested positive for Roxadustat, a banned substance according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.
Halep has denied knowingly taking the banned substance.
“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth,” said the 2019 Wimbledon Champion on her social media Friday.
“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.
“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.
“I will fight until the end to prove that I have never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that sooner or later, the truth will come out,” said the 2018 French Open winner.
On October 7 Halep was notified about the violation and then sought a B sample to be analyzed, which confirmed her earlier positive sample.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) released a statement that read, “The ITIA administers the Tennis Anti-Doping Program (TADP) which provides for a thorough process. In this case, Simona has received a mandatory provisional suspension in accordance with the 2022 TADP.
“The WTA fully supports the TADP, as well as Simona, while having full confidence that the right outcome will be reached through the detailed process that is ahead.”
According to the USADA, Roxadustat is a class of drug called HIF-stabilizing agents.
“Athletes can use these products to increase their red blood cell count, which is a very effective doping technique that increases the delivery of oxygen to working muscles to increase endurance performance.”
While under suspension, the two-time grand slam champion will be ineligible to compete in or attend any tennis events organized by the governing bodies of the sport,
In August, the Romanian Halep lost in the first round of the U.S. Open to Daria Snigur - who was ranked 124th in the world.
“It’s not 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,” Halep said in her statement.