Simona Halep has requested an emergency hearing for her doping suspension after laboratory tests showed product contamination as the source of the prohibited drug Roxadustat's presence in her system. The former World No. 1 is reportedly seeking a dismissal of the charges by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) in light of the new evidence.
A couple of months ago, the ITIA announced Halep's suspension following a positive test for Roxadustat during this year's US Open. Roxadustat is a drug used to treat anemia but also helps in improving an athlete's endurance.
The two-time Grand Slam champion faces a ban of up to four years.
But a report by ProSport has now revealed the findings of an examination commissioned by Halep, which was conducted in specialized centers accredited by the Laboratoire Antidopage Français. The findings suggest that the nutritional supplements taken by the 2018 Roland Garros winner had "accidental sources of compounds that exceed the purity criteria of the substances listed" on their labels.
While laboratory results verify the minimal presence of Roxadustat in Halep's urine sample, the presence of the drug was not indicated on the labels of the products she used. There is also no information provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency on any online identification engines to find prohibited substances in nutritional supplements.
The research further gave an indication of the risks in the production process and the contamination of the products taken by the 2019 Wimbledon champion, which will likely help her case. It also found the "composition, manufacturing characteristics, presentation and labeling of the supplements" to be non-compliant, thus "essentially altering" Halep's supplements.
Roxadustat is a drug that stimulates red blood cell production. It increases oxygen delivery to the muscles, thus proving beneficial to sportspeople.
Simona Halep fights to prove innocence, seeks evidence in infected meat
Simona Halep has also looked into the possibility that she might have ingested the banned substance Roxadustat through contaminated meat, according to a Newsweek Romania article.
In 2020, Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion Robert Farah was cleared of an anti-doping violation after successfully proving that the low concentration of boldenone (a banned anabolic steroid) found in his urine sample could be traced to beef he had eaten during a visit to Colombia. Boldenone is permitted as a growth promoter for livestock in his home country.
While the ITIA has not ruled out the possibility, Halep is reportedly yet to gather enough evidence to pursue this angle.
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