Wimbledon’s 2019 champion and Romanian tennis star, Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) after testing positive for roxadustat.
The 31-year-old, who provided the sample in question while competing at the US Open in August, was found to contain roxadustat – a hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) activating agent banned at all times under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.
Halep, currently ranked number nine in the world, exercised her right for the B sample to be analysed which confirmed the presence of the banned substance.
The two-time Grand Slam winner will be ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis events while the provisional suspension is in place.
“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,” she said.
“Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with.
“Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed.”
HIF activating agents can increase the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity and are therefore banned for their endurance-boosting capabilities.
Halep has claimed that she did not take the drug knowingly.
Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Tony Okerafor