Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been charged with a second doping offence over "irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport" by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). The 31-year-old Romanian has been provisionally suspended since October 2022, when she tested positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open. As per the ITIA, the charged hit at her on Friday is "separate and in addition to" her provision suspension.
The ITIA said that the charge she has been accused of was "based on an assessment" of Halep’s biological profile by an expert panel. These passports provide a baseline reading of the substances in an athlete’s body and help in chart doping. In an official statement, Nicole Sapstead, the group’s senior director for anti-doping, said, "We understand that today’s announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation. From the outset of this process — and indeed any other at the ITIA — we have remained committed to engaging with Ms. Halep in an empathetic, efficient, and timely manner."
Halep, in response to Friday’s findings, released a statement and said, "Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA, for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life." She further said, "Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven't ever even thought of taking an illicit substance."
Notably, the former world No. 1 is the most popular tennis player to have faced a doping ban since the five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova was suspended for consuming a banned substance at the Australian Open 2016. During any provisional suspension, a tennis player is ineligible to compete in or attend any of the sanctioned events.