Awaiting her hearing in February at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Simona Halep shared with Euronews’ Tokunbo Salako that a four-year doping suspension could end her career. This turmoil has deeply affected her emotionally and eroded trust in her professional relationships. Nevertheless, the two-time Grand Slam champion holds onto hope, determined to reduce her ban and aim for participation in the Paris Olympics 2024.
“Every day it felt very painful, very emotional, hurtful, because I know I didn’t do anything wrong and I know I’m clean,” said the former world No.1 Halep, who insists that her testing positive for the drug roxadustat at the 2022 US Open was a result of contamination.
As the 32-year-old awaits the three-day hearing scheduled for February 7-9 with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, she holds faith in her compelling evidence to defend herself. Still, the prospect of an unfavorable final decision weighs heavily on her:
“It’s catastrophic if it’s going to be four years, and I don’t know how I will handle it. Probably, it’s going to be the end of my career, yes. And for something that I didn’t do and that is not my fault, it’s even more catastrophic.”
Going forward, another immense challenge for Halep lies in rebuilding trust in her team members. In November, her former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, took blame for supplying a contaminated substance to her:
“We brought her collagen from a company. This collagen happened to be contaminated. There was no way to know it. But I feel responsible for what happened because it’s my team — so me, basically — who brought her this collagen.”
However, Halep commented that she wished Mouratoglou would have done it earlier. She ended her association with his academy and hasn’t had any communication with him for several months.
If the situation develops favorably for Halep, her dream is to play the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the city where she won Roland Garros as a junior in 2008 and later in 2018 as a professional. Halep concluded the interview by saying:
“I just want to be on court because that’s where I belong and I feel like I want to do it again.”