Former No.1-ranked tennis player Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency after failing a drug test during the US Open last month.
The ITIA said Halep tested positive for the banned substance Roxadustat, a drug approved for medical use in the European Union to treat the symptoms of anemia caused by chronic kidney failure.
“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth,” Halep wrote on Twitter.
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Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended for failing a drug test. (Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
The 31-year-old added that the news 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 sanction, I feel completely confused and betrayed.
“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.
“It’s not about the titles or the money. It’s about the honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years.”
Halep is a two-time singles grand slam champion who is currently No.9 in the WTA rankings. She won Roland-Garros in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, beating 23-time singles major champion Serena Williams in the final.
Halep, a 31-year-old from Romania, recently announced she was taking the rest of this season off after having nose surgery to improve her breathing.
According to the EU’s medicines agency, which approved Roxadustat last year, it stimulates the body to produce more of the natural hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, which has long been a doping product favoured by cyclists and distance runners.
During a provisional suspension, a tennis player is ineligible to compete in, or attend, any sanctioned events.
Under the World Anti-Doing Code, Halep faces a ban of up to four years for a positive test for a substance like Roxadustat.
Athletes can earn a reduction in their ban, likely to three years, if they quickly admit an offence and accept their sanction.
Tennis authorities will handle Halep’s case and any ruling can be challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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Source by wwos.nine.com.au