Simona Halep has been charged with second doping offence over irregularities in her athlete biological passport.
The two-time Grand Slam champion was suspended in October 2022 for the first time after testing positive for a banned substance at the US Open.
ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal pulls out of French Open
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Friday that the second charge “is separate and in addition to” the provisional suspension Halep received last year. The second charge is based on an assessment of her profile by an independent ABP Expert Panel.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) May 19, 2023
What is an athlete biological passport?
Athlete biological passports provide a baseline reading of substances in an athlete’s body and are considered a way to help chart doping.
The programme collects and compares biological data to spot discrepancies over time.
Why was Simona Halep banned in October?
The former World No 1 was suspended last year as she tested positive for roxadustat, an anti-anaemia drug which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the body.
Ranked No 9 in the world at the time, Halep is one of the highest-profile tennis players to fail a drugs test. The most prominent since Russian five-time major champion Maria Sharapova was banned in 2016.
What has Simona Halep said about the second doping charge?
Halep called on tennis’s anti-doping body to allow her to clear her name, questioning the long delay in her doping hearing after being denied the right to be heard by an independent court.
“Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven’t EVER even thought of taking any illicit substance,” Halep wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“I tried two times to have the opportunity to be judged by an Independent Tribunal but the ITIA has constantly found reasons to postpone.
“The only thing I hope for, at this point, is to have the possibility to finally access the independent and impartial judges in a Tribunal, that will give me the chance to prove my innocence.
“I have full trust in justice and I look forward to finally being able to present my case at my hearing that is scheduled at the end of May, after several delays by the ITIA.”
What did the ITIA say about the latest development?
“We understand that today’s announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation… We have remained committed to engaging with Ms. Halep in an empathetic, efficient, and timely manner,” said Senior Director for Anti-Doping at the ITIA, Nicole Sapstead, in a statement.
“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.”