Doping allegations really aren’t rare in the sports community anymore. So many athletes have received punishment and have fallen from grace because of it. Their previous achievements were revoked, and their remaining potential was left untapped because of one wrong decision.

The latest athlete to be caught up in doping allegations is none other than the two-time grand slam champion, Simona Halep. The Romanian tennis player, however, continues to challenge the allegations in her latest X post, entitled “My fight continues”.

Halep’s Doping Case

At the 2022 U.S. Open, the 31-year old tennis star was eliminated in the first round of the tournament after losing to Ukraine’s Daria Snigur. But what’s more devastating than her loss, was the news that she tested positive for the AAF, a standard test for the presence of a prohibited substance in a person’s urine. She tested positive for an illegal substance known as “Roxadustat”.

In May of this year, the ITIA found some discrepancies in her ABA (Athlete Biological Report) that were said to be the effects of doping and subsequently filed a second charge against her.

The tribunal ruled on September 11, 2023, that the player had committed an intentional anti-doping rule violation pursuant to Article 2 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP).

Although Halep had argued that she had taken a ‘contaminated supplement’, they said that even if this was the case, the results shouldn’t have produced such a substantial volume of Roxadustat.

Halep has since been provisionally banned for four years. This was made official last October 2022.

So, what is a Roxadustat?

Roxadustat is a medicine for the treatment of anaemia associated with chronic renal disease.

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This medicine helps your body make more red blood cells. It does this by making sure your body absorbs iron better and makes more red blood cells, it also helps your body produce more erythropoietin and lowers your hepcidin levels.

So, why are athletes not allowed to ingest this? As mentioned above, this increases red blood cell production, meaning that it also increases the oxygen that’s available to one’s body. And, this can be especially beneficial for athletes due to its ability to improve endurance.

Halep’s fight continues

She posted in her X account a recount of what she has gone through in the past year and how she was unfairly charged by the ITIA.

She said that she believes in a clean sport and has undergone 200 blood and urine tests that all came out clean until August 29, 2022. 

She also explained that she had altered her nutritional supplements at that time, in accordance with the advice of her team and physiotherapist. However, it has since been discovered that the supplement she was taking was contaminated with the illicit drug Roxadustat, which is why her AAF tests showed a positive result.

She proceeded to blast the ITIA’s experts, claiming they only filed charges for discrepancies in her athlete passport after they knew who she was. 

“This group ignored the fact no prohibited substance has ever been found in my blood or urine samples with the sole exception of one August 29 positive for roxadustat, which was present at an extremely low level and which, when considering my negative test three days prior, could only have been caused by accidental exposure to roxadustat.”

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Patrick Mouratoglou also released a statement regarding Halep’s four-year ban in his X account, in which he supported the tennis champion.

“I do not believe that the ITIA looked for the truth in Simona’s case, and I do not believe that they treated her in a way that is acceptable. I hope that the WTA, ATP, and PTPA will do their best to change a system that is destroying the careers of innocent players.”

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