Halep eager to return to tennis after cleared from doping ban

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Simona Halep, a former champion at Wimbledon and the French Open, has expressed her eagerness to return to tennis.

This follows the reduction of her four-year doping ban to nine months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the highest court in global sport. This decision makes the former world number one immediately eligible to compete.

Halep was initially handed a four-year ban due to two separate anti-doping rule violations. However, the Lausanne-based CAS decided to reduce her suspension to nine months, a duration she has already served.

The CAS Panel unanimously agreed to reduce the four-year ineligibility period to nine months, starting from October 7, 2022, and ending on July 6, 2023. With this ruling, the 32-year-old Romanian is now eligible to compete and could potentially receive a wild card for this year’s French Open or Wimbledon.

Throughout this challenging process, Halep maintained her belief in the eventual revelation of the truth and the arrival of a fair decision. She asserted in a statement that she has always been a clean athlete.

Halep’s suspension in October 2022 followed a positive test for roxadustat, a banned drug that boosts red blood cell production, at the U.S. Open that year. She faced another doping charge last year due to irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), a tool used to monitor various blood parameters over time to detect potential doping.

Halep strongly denied the charges against her and stated that she would likely be forced to retire if the initial four-year ban was upheld. She attributed her positive test at the U.S. Open to contaminated supplements and accused the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) of charging her with an ABP violation after the group of experts who evaluated her profile discovered her identity.

In response to the ruling, ITIA CEO Karen Moorhouse said, “A player’s ability to appeal is a crucial part of the anti-doping process, and the ITIA respects both their right to do so and the outcome.”

An independent tribunal accepted Halep’s claim of taking contaminated supplements but stated that the amount she consumed could not have led to the concentration of roxadustat found in her positive sample. The CAS Panel noted that while Halep should have exercised more caution when using the supplement, she was not significantly at fault for the violation.

The ABP charge was dismissed on the grounds that the sample provided in late 2022 was close to a surgery, and Halep had stated she would not compete for the rest of that year.

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