On Friday, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced that Halep had been provisionally suspended after a sample she provided during the recent US Open contained Roxadustat, a substance that is on the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. The former world No 1 quickly issued a statement herself stating that the result came as the “biggest shock of [her] life”.
The current world No 10 has maintained that she did not knowingly take any banned substance, and she has now been defended by the Romanian Tennis Federation’s acting president who revealed that the 31-year-old had been tested around “20 times a year”. Speaking to AGERPRES, George Cosac said: “Far from me thinking that Simona could do something like that, especially since she had a brilliant and work-based career.
“During the period when Simona started her ascent and beat all the stars who dominated world tennis, she was checked about 20 times per year. So it is unlikely that anyone would think that at her level she could dope. She has always been an athlete who played and won correctly. I rule out the possibility of doping.”
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Others in the tennis world have also come out to defend the 2018 Wimbledon champion, including her former coach Darren Cahill. The Aussie posted a lengthy statement to his Instagram profile on Sunday, claiming: “Firstly, and most importantly, there is NO chance Simona knowingly or purposely took any substance on the banned list. None. Zero.”
He also echoed Cosac’s words that Halep was willingly tested frequently, adding: “We both believe in the ITIA testing program and would often discuss the number of times she was tested, both at tournaments and randomly.” World No 36 Alize Cornet also showed her support for Halep, commenting on her statement about the matter. “With you all the way Simona,” she said. “It’s unfair but you will win this fight.”