In one of the most shocking pieces of tennis news to come out this year, Simona Halep has been handed a provisional suspension by the International Tennis Integrity Agency after testing positive for a banned substance.
The former World No. 1 has reportedly tested positive for Roxadustat, a substance in the same category as EPO (Erythropoietin) in WADA's list of banned substances. The test occurred during this year's US Open, where the Romanian lost in the first round to qualifier Daria Snigur.
The two-time Grand Slam champion put out a statement immediately, vowing to fight the suspension — which she referred to as the "hardest match" of her life. Halep went on to call the situation "unfair" and the "biggest shock" to her, adding that she has never considered cheating in any capacity at any point in her career.
"Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth. I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life," Simona Halep wrote. "Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with. Facing such an unfair situation, feel completely confused and betrayed."
Remarking that the truth would come out once she has had her say in the matter, the 31-year-old noted that she was battling not just for prospective titles or money down the line but for her "honor" and the "love story" she has developed with tennis over the years.
"I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and have faith that sooner or later, the truth will come out. It's not about the titles or the money. It's about honor, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years," Simona Halep wrote.
Simona Halep had previously ended her season after having nose surgery
After a topsy-turvy 2022 season, Simona Halep looked on course for a dominant end to the year following her Canadian Open triumph and breaking into the Top-10 of the WTA rankings. However, after a disappointing first-round exit at the US Open, she opted to have nose surgery and announced that she would be ending her season with immediate effect.
Despite being in the qualifying spots for the year-ending WTA Finals, it meant Halep sat out the tournament, allowing other players to fight it out for the eighth spot. It should be noted that Patrick Mouratoglou, who began his stint as Halep's coach earlier this year, took over as Danish youngster Holger Rune's coach after the Romanian announced her extended break from the game.