Former world No. 1 Simona Halep has been charged with a second breach of doping rules, the International Tennis Integrity Agency said Friday.
The additional charge relates to irregularities in Halep’s athlete biological passport (ABP), based on an assessment of her profile by an independent ABP expert panel.
The former Wimbledon and French Open champion has already been provisionally suspended since October 2022 after testing positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat at the US Open last year.
Halep, 31, has denied knowingly taking the banned substance and said she has evidence that proves low quantities of the anti-anemia drug entered her body because of an authorized supplement that was contaminated.
“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,” Nicole Sapstead, senior director for anti-doping at the ITIA, said 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.”
In a lengthy statement posted to her Twitter account on Friday, Halep again denied the charges and acknowledged feeling “helpless facing such harassment and a motivation on (the ITIA’s) behalf to prove me guilty of something I never did.”
“Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life,” Halep said in the statement. “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.”
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) May 19, 2023
Last month Halep called on tennis’ anti-doping body to allow her the chance to clear her name, questioning the long delay in her doping hearing after being denied the right to be heard by an independent court.
In her statement Friday, Halep said she looks forward “to finally being able to present my case” at a hearing scheduled for the end of May, noting she has “full trust in justice.”
Information from Reuters was included in this report.
Simona Halep charged with additional doping offense