Simona Halep tested positive for Roxadustat, a HIF (Hypoxia-inducible factor) prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor which is used to treat anemia in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) who are dependent on dialysis.
Being an HIF stabilizer, Roxadustat, also called FG-4592, has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It increases the endogenous production of erythropoietin and stimulates the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells in the bone marrow. Simona Halep's failed drug test is the very first instance of blood doping in tennis.
The International Tennis Integrity confirmed on Friday that Halep has been issued a provisional suspension under Article 7.12.1 of the 2022 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme.
The Romanian provided a sample while competing at the US Open and it was split into Samples A and B. Further testing revealed that Sample A contained Roxadustat. Halep requested that Sample B be tested as well. The analysis confirmed the presence of Roxadustat in Sample A.
As a result of her provisional suspension, the World No. 9 will not be able to compete in any tournaments until further notice.
Halep has had an impressive season so far, winning 39 out of 50 matches with two titles to her name, the most recent of which came at the Canadian Open, where she beat Beatriz Haddad Maia in the final.
The Romanian announced last month that she would not participate any further in 2022 after undergoing nose surgery.
"I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance" - Simona Halep
Simona Halep took to social media on Friday to talk about her suspension and said that she felt confused and betrayed. The Romanian also stated that she would "fight until the end" to prove that she never knowingly took any prohibited substance.
"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 named Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock in my life. Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never crossed my mind once, as it is totally against the values I have been educated with. Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely coonfused and betrayed," Simona Halep tweeted.
"I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that sooner or later, the truth will come out. It's not about the titles or money. It's about honor or the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years," she added.