Miami Open: Simona Halep loses on doping ban return as Caroline Wozniacki criticises wildcard

Simona Halep hits the ball
Halep won the French Open in 2018 and the Wimbledon title in 2019

Players banned for doping should not receive wildcards on their return, says Caroline Wozniacki, after Simona Halep was beaten on her comeback in Miami.

Two-time major champion Halep, 32, lost 1-6 6-4 6-3 to Paula Badosa in her first match since a four-year doping ban - later reduced to nine months.

Halep was given a wildcard for Miami but Wozniacki said such players "should work their way from the bottom".

"I have always wanted a clean sport, fair for everybody," Wozniacki said.

"This is not directly at Simona, but if someone purposely cheats, if someone has tested positive for doping, I don't think people should be awarded wildcards afterwards."

The Dane added: "If you want to come back and it's been a mistake, I understand, but you should work your way up from the bottom."

Wildcards are awarded by tournaments to players whose ranking is not high enough for direct qualification.

Romanian Halep was provisionally suspended at the US Open in September 2022 after testing positive for the use of roxadustat - an anti-anaemia drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells in the body.

Halep has always maintained her innocence and said the accusations were "scandalous".

While her case was partially upheld on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), it was ruled Halep "on the balance of probabilities" had not taken roxadustat intentionally.

Responding to former world number one Wozniacki's comments, Halep said: "I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't cheat. I didn't dope.

"So it's better if we read the decision from Cas that it was a contaminated supplement, it wasn't doping.

"I never had something to do with doping. I never doped, so I'm not a cheater.

"Only one person being negative about me is not that important because I have hundreds of people that giving me love, so I will take that."

Halep impressively raced through the first set against former world number two Badosa, of Spain, but struggled to maintain those levels.

With the French Open running between 26 May and 9 June, Halep is looking to build up time on the court.

Halep won the French Open in 2018 and lifted the Wimbledon title in 2019.

Elsewhere at the Miami Open, 43-year-old Venus Williams, a three-time winner of the event, was beaten 6-3 6-3 by 19-year-old Russian Diana Shnaider.