LONDON: Two-time Grand Slam champion Simon Halep has been banned for four years for two separate anti-doping code violations as the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) ruled against her and said the amount of anti-doping material found in her body can't come from a contaminated supplement.
The ITIA stated this on Tuesday and noted the anti-doping code violation issue, thus confirming her four-year ban.
"The first (charge) related to an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the U.S. Open in 2022, carried out through regular urine testing during competition.
The tribunal accepted Halep's argument that they had taken a contaminated supplement but determined the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample.
"The second charge related to irregularities in Halep's Athlete Biological Passport (ABP),” the ITIA said in a statement.
The 31-year-old former Wimbledon and French Open champion was provisionally suspended since October 2022 after testing positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat at the US Open last year.
Her suspension runs until October 6, 2026.
However, Halep has denied all allegations and said she will appeal to the sport’s highest court, the Court of Arbitration (CAS). She said she had evidence to show that a small amount of the anaemia drug entered her system from a licensed supplement that was contaminated.
"I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court," Halep said in a statement.
"I intend to appeal this decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question."
The drug Roxadustat is approved for medical use in the European Union to treat the symptoms of anaemia caused by chronic kidney failure. According to the EU's medicines agency, it stimulates the body to produce more of the natural hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, which has long been a doping product favoured by cyclists and distance runners.
Halep was accused of a second doping offence in May for the irregularities in her athlete biological passport.
In August, the U.S. Tennis Association announced that Halep "was automatically withdrawn" when the US Open qualifying draw was held. During a provisional suspension, a player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned events.