Tennis: Former world number one Simona Halep suspended for doping, playing her future in Switzerland

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First of all, due to the discovery of roxadustat in a urine sample during the 2022 US Open, a molecule that stimulates the production of red blood cells and is classified as an EPO in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations, and then for irregularities in her biological passport, a long-term monitoring tool for elite athletes. Her suspension now runs until October 2026.

Throughout the nearly year-long affair, 32-year-old Halep – who spent 64 weeks on the throne between October 2017 and February 2018 – continues to proclaim her innocence. With her back against the wall and unable to practice her profession since, the former world number one has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is expected to deliver its conclusions by Friday.

As “neither party requested a public hearing,” the proceedings will be held behind closed doors from 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday until approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday, with no communication from Simona Halep’s side, before a verdict is rendered on an as-yet-unknown date, the CAS stated in a press release. The initial hearing ruled that the level of the prohibited substance found in her body was far too high.

Halep is the first prominent tennis player to be caught in the anti-doping net since the resounding suspension of Maria Sharapova in 2016. Tested positive for meldonium, the Russian star eventually received a fifteen-month suspension.

“So we offered her to take collagen. It happens that this collagen was contaminated, there was no way to know.

But I feel responsible for what happened because it’s my team,” declared Serena Williams’ former coach. An inevitably tough episode for the Romanian.

“They are the ones who gave me this dietary supplement. And for this mistake, their mistake, I am paying the high price,” she had let slip to *Paris Match*.

“25 years of my career have been destroyed! We have not been in direct contact for several months.

I have not been training at the Mouratoglou Academy since last year. We no longer work together.”

In her defense before the CAS, she thus intends to attribute full responsibility to Mouratoglou’s team for consuming a supplement containing the prohibited substance. Her lawyers will rely on the fact that the native of Constanta had a team with extensive experience.

She therefore had no reason not to trust them… She still hopes that her sentence will be reduced by at least half. This verdict would allow her to return to the circuit and become a 100% tennis player again.

“My dream is to come back, regardless of my age. One thing is for sure: I want to choose the end of my career and I don’t want to finish anywhere else other than on the court,” she whispered to *Paris Match.

I think I deserve it after all the work I have done over the years.” Her last match dates back to her defeat in the first round of the US Open on August 29, 2022.

And it could be her last. Because if the CAS upholds her suspension, the Romanian will likely have to put an end to her career.

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