Simona Halep doping news leaves tennis world in shock: 'This is terrible'

Simona Halep, pictured here on the tennis court.
Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended after testing positive to a banned substance. Image: Getty

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.

'TOTAL MESS': Ash Barty at centre of bizarre WTA controversy

'NOT RETIRED': Serena Williams bombshell shocks tennis world

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."

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.

Simona Halep, pictured here with the trophy after winning the French Open in 2018.
Simona Halep poses with the trophy after winning the French Open in 2018. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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.

Simona Halep, pictured here in action against Daria Snigur at the US Open.
Simona Halep in action against Daria Snigur at the US Open. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images) (Robert Prange via Getty Images)

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."

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.