Halep Wins CAS Appeal & Can Return To The WTA At Her Point Of Choosing

Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash

As all tennis fans will know, two time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep fell foul of doping laws and tested positive for roxadustat, as well as facing another charge for having irregularities in her athlete biological passport (ABP) during a routine test at the US Open back in August 2022, and the 32 year old Romanian was originally banned until October 2026 – which effectively meant a more meaningful career was at an end, and would have left her contemplating retirement.

Naturally, she completely disputed the charges and the ‘scandalous accusations’ and continued to maintain her innocence even after conviction. Launching an appeal in an effort to clear her name in the hopes that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would be more willing to listen to her testimony and evidence, than the initial drug panel did. For her fans on a certain uk punters website, they would have been following matters closely and they will be delighted with the latest development as her odds of a next win have improved dramatically.

The appeal decision is now in, and CAS have reduced her doping ban from four years to nine months, and in partially upholding her case, they concluded that she had not ‘on the balance of probabilities’ taken roxadustat intentionally. The drug is an anti anaemia treatment which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the system, and the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) came to the conclusion that the conclusion that the drug had come from a collagen supplement, called Keto MCT. There own investigation seemed to point to a contamination of the Keto MCT product, but they ruled regardless.

CAS, on the other hand, more acknowledged the ‘contaminated product’ angle and agreed that the levels detected in her sample more than suggested that it was, in effect, small enough to pass as being an accidental intake (as opposed to a more regular intake) and ergo, she established in argument that there was no intention to violate the anti-doping rules that are in place.

CAS did find that she did not ‘exercise sufficient care’ when using the product and that she had to shoulder that part of the charge, but that over all, she was not guilty of ‘significant fault or negligence’.

In response to CAS’s determination, the ITIA simply stated that they ‘respected’ the decision that they had come to.

With fears that the length of the ban would end the former 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon championship winners career, she was naturally delighted with the outcome, acknowledging that a mistake had been made, but an innocent one that was in no way deliberate. Her main anger seemed to surround the fact she felt hounded for guilt, where a mistake (in her mind) was never even entertained.

“My faith in the process was tested by the scandalous accusations that were levelled against me, and by the seemingly unlimited resources that were aligned against me. I cannot wait to return to the tour.”

The ABP charge followed in May 2023 where a discrepancy was found in her historic blood samples which suggested possible doping. Three expects had looked at 51 samples of historic blood and determined that the time lap implied ‘likely doping’.

Halep countered with blood loss during an operation and periods of not training, and CAS dismissed that charge as they were ‘not comfortably satisfied’ that an offence had been committed given the circumstances and samples at play.

The former No 1 is now unranked so will need wildcard entries for WTA tournaments, but that is unlikely to be a major problem for her as she returns to the court with ‘renewed vigour and an invigorated spirit’, as given her nine month ban is backdated, she is now free to return immediately judging her own fitness to compete.

There will be plenty in the wider world of tennis who more than welcome her return given how big her name is.