Simona Halep won her case and can continue her tennis career

Away from the court for a year and a half, Simona Halep “can't wait to get back”: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday reduced her suspension from four years to nine months, already served, for two anti-doping violations.

The 32-year-old Romanian champion, a former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam winner, tested positive for the banned product at the 2022 US Open before “irregularities” in her biological passport were discovered. add to his case next spring.

But after three days of hearings in early February, the sports court attributed his positive test to a “contaminated supplement”, and considered that the elements taken from the blood test were not sufficient to establish doping behavior.

“I can't wait to get back on the track,” said the player in a press release, who has maintained since the beginning of the affair that he “never intentionally took any prohibited product.”

“I am and always have been an impeccable athlete,” the Romanian continued, denouncing the “scandalous allegations” against her and the “seemingly unlimited resources” used against her. “Eventually the truth prevailed, although it took much longer than I would have liked. »

A molecule close to EPO

CAS therefore disavowed the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), which sanctioned Simona Halep on September 22, 2023, and demanded in this arbitration proceeding “a period of suspension ranging from four to six years” against the Roland-Garros winner. 2018 and Wimbledon 2019.

The court in Lausanne promises to “as soon as possible” state the practical consequences of its decision, namely the suspension from October 7, 2022 to July 6, 2023 – which had already been served even before Simona Halep filed an appeal – and the annulment of all his results between August 29, 2022 and October 7, 2022.

The reduction of the sanction implies “that Simona Halep should have had the right to play in the last two Grand Slam tournaments”, that is, the US Open in 2023 and the Australian Open in 2024, one of her three lawyers, the American Howard Jacobs, points out in the press. rid.

Halep's career has been on hold since October 7, 2022, the date her provisional suspension began after she tested positive at the 2022 US Open for roxadustat, a molecule that stimulates red blood cell production and is classified as an EPO in the World Anti-Doping Agency's rules. agency (WADA).

Nose surgery

The former world number 1 was caught in the spring of 2023 by another affair, this time of “irregularities” in the data of her biological passport, a long-term tool for tracking top athletes.

Ruling at first instance, the ITIA “recognized Halep's argument of ingestion of a contaminated dietary supplement” but “determined that the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample could not be derived from the amount ingested by the player” — an argument overturned on Tuesday by the CAS- And.

As for Halep's biological passport, the disciplinary body said there was “no reason to doubt the unanimous 'strong opinion' of three independent experts that 'probable doping' is the explanation for the irregularities”, “based on the analysis of 51 blood samples from the player”.

But CAS included in its reasoning “the results of a private blood sample given by Ms. Halep on September 9, 2022, in the context of a surgical operation” and although she has withdrawn from any competition until the end of the year, judging that these elements made “doping scenarios presented by ITIA” incredible.

Halep, then world number nine, explained that she had been suffering from breathing problems for “a while” that worsened during the summer of 2022, and ended the season to recover from nose surgery.

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