Friday, May 19, 2023

By PA Sport Staff

Simona Halep has been charged with a second anti-doping violation over “irregularities in her athlete biological passport”.

The former world number one and Wimbledon champion has been provisionally suspended since October last year after testing positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.

Last month Halep criticised the delay in her case, but the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Friday the Romanian had been charged with a “further and separate breach of the tennis anti-doping programme” after an independent assessment of her athlete biological passport.

Nicole Sapstead, senior director for anti-doping at the ITIA, said in a statement: “We understand this 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.

“We do, of course, appreciate there is a great deal of media interest in these cases.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on specifics until the conclusion of the process, but we will continue to engage with the Sport Resolutions independent tribunal and Ms Halep’s representatives as expeditiously as possible.”

The athlete biological passport programme collates various blood parameters over time in an effort to spot any inconsistencies in the data which could indicate a possible doping offence.

Simona Halep has not played a match since losing in the opening round of the US Open last August (Steven Paston/PA)
Simona Halep has not played a match since losing in the opening round of the US Open last August (Steven Paston/PA)

Halep, who won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon the following year, has not played a match since losing in the opening round of the US Open last August.

Speaking for the first time since her suspension last month, Halep claimed analysis by experts has pinpointed a contaminated supplement as the cause of the positive test.

She also admitted to being frustrated at the length of time it was taking for her case to be resolved, telling tennismajors.com: “Emotionally, the whole period has not been easy.

“I’m not asking for special treatment. I just ask to be judged. How much longer is this going to take?”

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