Novak Djokovic’s Professional Tennis Players Association has released a statement in support of Simona Halep after the Romanian failed a doping test at the US Open. The former World No.1 has since been handed a suspension after she was found to have used illegal substances.
Halep, who won Wimbledon back in 2019, has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for the anti-anaemia drug Roxadustat at the US Open earlier this year. She was defeated in the first round of the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year, falling to Ukraine’s Daria Snigur.
The world No.9 has won two Grand Slam titles – at Wimbledon in 2019 and the French Open a year earlier. Last month, Halep announced she would rest and avoid tennis until 2023 after undergoing nose surgery to improve her breathing.
The International Tennis Integrity Association confirmed both A and B sample showed traces of the banned substance. Roxadustat increases the production of red blood cells through the endogenous production of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO).
However, the PTPA took her side and confirmed its support for Halep in a statement.
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“The PTPA is committed to ensure that Simona Halep, like all other tennis players, has a fair trial during the entire process,” the statement read. “We will fight for her rights and try to insist on transparency for all other tennis players.”
Following the remarkable news of her test failure, the 31-year-old has insisted she feels ‘completely confused and betrayed’ by the news. She said: “Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth.
“I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life. Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all values I have been educated with.
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“Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed. I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that sooner or later, the truth will come out.
“It’s not about the titles or the money. It’s about honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 23 years.”
Halep is the most noteworthy player since Maria Sharapova in 2016 to fail a drugs test. The five-time Grand Slam champion’s ban was reduced from two years to 15 months after her appeal.