"I cannot support" - When Simona Halep spoke against Maria Sharapova receiving wildcard after Russian's suspension for doping ended

Maria Sharapova (L) and Simona Halep
Maria Sharapova (L) and Simona Halep

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) imposed a provisional ban on Simona Halep on Friday after a banned substance was found in the World No. 9's drug test during the 2022 US Open in August.

The prohibited drug that got Halep in trouble is Roxadustat. It helps in creating red blood cells and is included in the list of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) prohibited substances. The 31-year-old has already made it clear that she will fight for the truth, which means that she could appeal in court against the drug test result.

In 2016, former player Maria Sharapova found herself in a similar situation when she faced an initial two-year ban for testing positive for Meldonium. Her suspension was later reduced to 15 months. Her punishment ended in April 2017, right before the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was about to begin as the tournament organizers decided to give Sharapova a wildcard entry.

The decision didn't go down well with a number of players on the tour, forcing them to criticize those who helped the Russian. Some of these players were Alize Cornet, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Roberta Vinci, and Simona Halep.

The Romanian stated that it would be wrong for kids and young players to see a player, who was found doping, getting a direct entry in an event. She added that she didn't support the tournament director's decision.

"For the kids, for the young players, it is not okay to help a player with a wild card who was banned for doping," Simona Halep said. "It is not about Maria Sharapova here, but it is about all the players that are found doped. I cannot support what the tournament director did, but also, I cannot judge."

The only players who came out in support of Sharapova at the time were Karolina Pliskova and Kim Clijsters.

"Simona would not have done such a thing even if you had cut off her hand" - Simona Halep's ex-husband Toni Iuruc

Simona Halep got divorced in September
Simona Halep got divorced in September

Simona Halep married her boyfriend Toni Iuruc last year. However, the marriage ended around 11 months ago after they got divorced in September 2022. After hearing the news of the tennis player's doping charges, Iuruc expressed his astonishment. In an interview with Fanatik, the billionaire stated that there was no way Halep would cheat. He added that there must have been a mistake with the test.

"I'm shocked, I haven't recovered for an hour, I'm shocked and shocked again," Iuruc said. "I cannot believe that. I've known Simona for three years, of which at least two in the circuit, and I swear to you that this girl, my ex-wife, is obsessed with one thing — honor."
"You can take anything from Simona, if you took away her honor, her fairness, you kill her. She is no longer human. I don't know what happened there with that test, but it's probably a mistake. Simona would not have done such a thing even if you had cut off her hand to stop playing tennis," he added.

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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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