Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended from playing tennis after testing positive for a banned substance, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) confirmed on Friday.
“Halep, who has a WTA ranking of 9, provided a sample whilst competing at the US Open in August 2022. The sample was split into A and B samples and the subsequent analysis found that the A sample contained FG-4592 (Roxadustat), which is a prohibited substance listed in the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List,” ITIA said in a statement.
“The player exercised their right to request that the B sample was analysed, which confirmed the finding in the A sample.
“While provisionally suspended, the player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events organised by the governing bodies of the sport,” it added.
Two-time Grand Slam winner Halep issued a statement on social media, saying that it was the biggest shock of her life.
“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.”
Halep added that she would fight until the end to prove that she did not knowingly take any prohibited substance.
“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.”
Halep, who ranks No. 9 globally, clinched two Grand Slam singles titles in her career, the first being at the French Open in 2018 and then at Wimbledon a year later.
The 31-year-old Romanian revealed last month that she took the rest of this season off after having nose surgery to solve a recurring breathing problem.