Simona Halep doping news leaves tennis world in shock: 'This is terrible'
The tennis world has reacted with shock and sadness after it was announced that Simona Halep had tested positive for a banned substance on Friday.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency announced that the World No.9 had tested positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the US Open, with the former World No.1 provisionally suspended.
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Halep, who won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, is the highest-profile tennis player to fail a drugs test since Maria Sharapova six years ago.
The 31-year-old Romanian immediately issued a statement on her social media channels, saying: "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 the values I have been educated with.
"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 money. It's about honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years."
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) October 21, 2022
Halep, who suffered a shock loss to Daria Snigur in the first round of the US Open in September, decided to end her season to an end last month following nasal surgery.
She was notified of her failed test on October 7.
Halep requested her B sample be analysed, which confirmed the finding of the A sample.
Speaking in September, Halep said that earlier in the year she had suffered mental health problems and had considered ending her career.
However she began working with Serena Williams' former coach Patrick Mouratoglou and her form briefly rebounded.
Tennis world in shock over Simona Halep news
Roxadustat has been linked to doping in the past, with the United States Anti-Doping Agency re-testing samples in 2016 after saying it had been tipped off about the anaemia drug's use by athletes.
Roxadustat increases the production of red blood cells, helping endurance, and is in the same category of banned substances as EPO.
Halep had returned to the top 10 this season following injury issues last year, reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon and winning WTA titles in Melbourne and Toronto.
But her suspension means she cannot compete in or attend any sanctioned events organised by the governing bodies of the tennis.
Sharapova tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in 2016 and was initially banned for two years before it was reduced to 15 months.
Tennis fans and commentators reacted to the shocking news on social media.
"Shocked with this Simona Halep news," tweeted Aussie great Rennae Stubbs.
"I’ll reserve my thoughts until she has gone through the process of investigating how it happened and how it ended up in her system.
"She's never struck me as someone who would cheat to get ahead. Hope this is a mistake, if not, then this is terrible."
Shocked with this @Simona_Halep news. I’ll reserve my thoughts until she has gone thru the process of investigating how it happened & how it ended up in her system. Shes never struck me as someone who would cheat to get ahead. Hope this is a mistake, If not, then this is terrible
— Rennae Stubbs OLY (@rennaestubbs) October 21, 2022
Wow. Simona Halep tested positive at the #USOpen.
One of the biggest ever doping cases in tennis. https://t.co/MAuDAp9VDI
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) October 21, 2022
What a wild and eventful year for Simona Halep
- Comeback from injury
- Working with Patrick
- A panic attack at Roland Garros
- Wimbledon SF
- Won 2 titles, including Toronto 1000
- Shock R1 USO loss
- A nose surgery + no more Patrick
- Tests positive for Roxdustat
— Vansh (@vanshv2k) October 21, 2022
As someone who followed Halep’s career since the beginning, I tend (and want) to believe in what she says. Just hoping for the best, but this entire situation… is a mess.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) October 21, 2022
The suspension of Simona Halep because of a positive doping test is a shocker. I hardly believe a person like her, who's always been an ethical worker, respectful and honest, needed to use those kinds of substances. We are talking about a former no. 1 and multiple GS winner.
— Relevant Tennis | Stats & Info (@RelevantTennis) October 21, 2022
Anyone who watched Halep play this year would not immediately suspect anything about her performance was, um, enhanced?
— David Kane (@DKTNNS) October 21, 2022
So sad to hear that especially against a beloved athlete/example we grew up with, keep fighting for justice @Simona_Halep, no question about your integrity and tennis fans are aware of that, we believe you and we stand by your side, stay strong ❤️💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/cS8BwU5G4J
— Tennis Handshakes (@TennisHandshake) October 21, 2022
Absolutely gobsmacked, feeling very sad by this news. 😞
— CARO (@carolin81122487) October 21, 2022
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