March 5, 2024

Tennis star Halep free to return after four-year doping ban reduced by CAS

Former World Number One Simona Halep

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday reduced the four-year doping ban imposed on Romania’s former world number one Simona Halep to nine months, which have already been served.

The 32-year-old was suspended for four years last September by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) after two separate doping infractions the previous year.

The two-time Grand Slam singles champion appealed to CAS in February, arguing that the positive test was the result of a “contaminated product” and anomalies in her biological passport could be linked to surgery she had undergone.

“The CAS Panel has unanimously determined that the four-year period of ineligibility imposed by the ITF Independent Tribunal is to be reduced to a period of ineligibility of nine months starting on 7 October 2022, which period expired on 6 July 2023,” CAS said in a statement.

Halep’s career has been on hold since October 7, 2022, the date of the start of her provisional suspension after testing positive for Roxadustat at the US Open.

Roxadustat is a substance that can be used legitimately to treat anaemia.

But it is also on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list as it is considered a blood-doping agent, which increases haemoglobin and the production of red blood cells.

The biological passport system is designed for the long-term monitoring of an athlete’s blood indicators with the aim of identifying irregularities that could indicate doping.

Simona Halep has protested her innocence and refused to accept the ITIA decision which would have kept keep her from playing professional tennis again until October 6, 2026.

The winner of the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon singles titles said she wanted to “clear her name” and claimed experts found she had accidentally taken a contaminated supplement.