Six months after getting a provisional doping suspension due to an extremely low quantity of roxadustat detected in her body, Simona Halep is still awaiting a hearing by an independent court and wasting precious time away from competition. In an exclusive interview with Tennis Majors, the former world No.1 opens up about her feelings during what sure is the toughest period of her life and criticizes the sport’s anti-doping bodies for their lack of proactivity.
All Halep is asking for is a fair and timely trial, but months go by and her hearing is constantly being postponed. Now it’s even certain that she’ll miss the French Open, as the latest information is that her hearing will be at the end of May. The worst thing is that this date is also very uncertain, as the ITIA said that they might cancel it as well.
“Everything takes so long,” the 31-year-old WTA player said. “I asked the ITIA to lift my sanction to be able to play but they also refused it.”
Since there is no end to this agony, Halep decided to break her silence and give us insight into the process for the first time since finding out that her urine sample from the 2022 US Open was contaminated. Even though she submitted evidence that should prove her innocence back in December, the resolution of this stressful waiting period is not near.
The two-time Grand Slam champion Halep insists that she is innocent and a big supporter of clean sports. Roxadustat, she had never before heard of, entered her body through a contaminated supplement, meaning that the producer of the supplement made a mistake and contaminated the product with a very low quantity of the banned substance. In December, the Romanian sent proof of this to the ITIA, but they denied it.
The never-ending wait for a hearing by an independent tribunal began. First the hearing was scheduled for February 28th, and Halep hoped she would learn whether or not she would be able to play Indian Wells, but it was postponed to March 24th. Then, the ITIA requested to cancel that one as well. If they also cancel the hearing supposed to take place at the end of May, it will further extend the period of Halep’s inactivity, to which she commented: “I believe that it’s not fair to spend eight months without even being judged by the tribunal.”
As the waiting game continues, Halep remains focused on her tennis and is determined to make a comeback to the sport she loves. However, the prolonged period of inactivity is taking its toll, and she is eager to put this nightmare behind her and return to competition.