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Simona Halep cleared for tennis return after CAS reduces four-year doping ban

Published at :March 7, 2024 at 5:34 AM
Modified at :April 1, 2024 at 9:25 PM
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(Courtesy : Eurosport)

Mohammed Fazeel

Simona Halep has already served the reduced nine-month ban.

The Court of Arbitration (CAS), also sport’s highest court, cleared the decks on Tuesday for former World No. 1 Simona Halep to resume her tennis career. Halep can return to the sport immediately after having her four-year ban reduced to nine months by the Lausanne-based court — a period she has already served. The ban has been applied retroactively from 7 October 2022 and expired on 6 July 2023.

Halep had filed an appeal before the CAS and participated in a hearing at Lausanne, Switzerland last month. The Romanian tested positive for the banned blood-booster roxadustat in 2022 and has not played since her first-round exit at the 2022 US Open. Halep clarified that the fault lay with the contaminated supplements she consumed and was responsible for her testing positive for the banned substance at the US Open.

The two-time Grand Slam winner had been serving a ban that would have kept her from tennis until October 2026, when she would have been 35. Halep has consistently maintained her innocence and vigorously denied the charges against her. She also stated that the anomalies in her biological passport could be the result of the surgery she had undergone. If the CAS had upheld the ban, her playing days would have effectively been over.

The CAS panel agreed with Halep’s contention that the anti-doping violations were unintentional. Further, the court also dismissed the Athlete’s Biological Passport (ABP) charge. The dismissal was based on the fact that the sample was given in late 2022, shortly before the player’s scheduled surgery. Halep had undergone nose surgery towards the end of the season and announced her plans to miss the remainder of the 2022 season.

The Romanian was handed the initial four-year ban in September, having been found guilty of anti-doping regulations by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Independent Tribunal. The tribunal handed her the ban on September 22, 2023.

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A brief timeline of Simona Halep’s doping controversy —

  • August 29, 2022 – Halep’s urine sample collected during the 2022 US Open contains the presence of roxadustat. 
  • October 21, 2022 – The ITF provisionally suspends Halep after she tests positive for roxadustat.
  • May 19, 2023 – Halep faces an additional charge related to irregularities in her ABP.
  • June 28 and 29, 2023 – The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) meets in London and hears testimony from expert witnesses and Simona Halep.
  • September 11, 2023 – The ITIA tribunal confirms that Halep intentionally took the banned substance and banned her from the sport until October 6, 2026.
  • February 7, 2024 – Halep approaches the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, to challenge her four-year ban.
  • March 5, 2024 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling brings relief for Halep, effectively ending her ban by reducing it to nine months from four years.

Now that the 32-year-old Romanian is eligible to compete, she may make an appearance at the upcoming French Open or Wimbledon should she be granted a wildcard. Halep won the French Open in 2018 and lifted the Wimbledon trophy a year later. She also reached the semifinals at SW19 in 2022, the same year she tested positive for the performance-boosting drug.

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