Romanian tennis player shares shocking info about Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy: “Athletes are given some substances”


An 18-year-old Romanian player, Maria Sara Popa, has accused Patrick Mouratoglou’s tennis academy of administering “substances” to junior players, adding a new layer to the ongoing doping controversy surrounding Simona Halep.

Patrick Mouratoglou and Simona Halep

Popa, a rising star who trained at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France when she was 12, claimed that young players at the academy “are given some substances.”

Mouratoglou, known for his work with top tennis stars like Serena Williams, Coco Gauff, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, among others, has been in the spotlight following the doping scandal involving two-time major winner Halep. The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) handed Halep a four-year ban for “intentional” doping offenses in September 2023. Halep, coached by Mouratoglou from 2022 until her suspension, has denied knowingly or intentionally using any prohibited substance and has recently appealed the decision.

Mouratoglou took responsibility for providing a contaminated supplement to Halep, stating in a video on his Instagram account in November, “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.”

In an interview with, Popa made serious allegations against the prestigious tennis academy, stating, “I went when I was 12 years old. I played at the Mouratoglou Academy. It is true, from a young age, athletes are given some substances.” She mentioned that junior players are not subjected to anti-doping controls until they turn 17, and players and parents must agree to take the substances, signing a sheet to indicate their consent.

“The first time I was scared, I really didn’t know what was happening,” the WTA world No.449 continued. “There are athletes who take those substances, only they don’t get caught because they know exactly when to eliminate the substance and they know exactly when to take them. I, for example, was tested weekly and never took. But I can’t put my hand in the fire for the other athletes.”

Expressing support for her compatriot Halep, Popa suggested that both sides might share blame in the doping case, stating, “There were mistakes on both sides. Maybe she should have been careful too. Maybe the people from Mouratoglou should have been careful too, to tell her exactly when to give her that substance, perhaps.”

The 32-year-old Halep has recently sued the Canadian company responsible for a dietary supplement she alleges led to her doping violation. The former world No.1, who was provisionally suspended since October 2022 following a positive test during the 2022 US Open, has not played since her opening-round defeat at the tournament. The ITIA confirmed in September last year that charges for Halep’s positive test for roxadustat, a prohibited substance that increases haemoglobin and red blood cell production, had been upheld, resulting in a four-year suspension for the Romanian.

In a controversial statement about doping, former Romanian world No.1 ATP player Ilie Nastase has suggested that American athletes may have received preferential treatment. Nastase specifically alleged that Serena Williams was likely involved in doping practices. He claimed that the truth has been suppressed to avoid a significant negative economic impact on the sport.

UPDATE: Maria Sara Popa has issued an apology to Patrick Mouratoglou, saying: “I apologize for the offense given to Patrick Mouratoglou and the Mouratoglou Academy. I was never a member of the Mouratoglou Academy. I played there in a tournament under 12, Mouratoglou Cup in 2017. Again, I sincerely apologize for everything that happened.”


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