Simona Halep doping ban: Tennis Integrity Agency publishes full decision
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) recently published the full decision of the independent tribunal in the case of Simona Halep's doping case. The Romanian athlete was suspended from professional tennis for four years for anti-doping rule breaches.
In the 126-page report, the agency argues that Candice Gohier, a physiotherapist on Patrick Muratoglou's team, is the one who recommended the collagen supplement to Simona Halep, which resulted in contamination with Roxadustat. It happened on August 17 last year, when Halep withdrew from the Cincinnati tournament due to an injury. Gohier added the supplement to Halep's nutrition at this point.
The document, cited by Digi24, also notes a difference in concentration between what the contamination of the supplement would have represented and what was found in the athlete's body, as well as irregularities in a blood test conducted nearly a month after the US Open.
ITIA says that according to the anti-doping regulations in tennis, it is the athlete's full responsibility to ensure that they do not ingest prohibited substances. The lack of intent, fault, negligence, or willful knowledge on the player's part cannot serve as a defence if the regulations have been violated. In other words, once a violation of the regulations is demonstrated by the presence of a prohibited substance in the athlete's body, the default punishment (pre-established) applies in this situation: a 4-year suspension.
ITIA further specifies that the Romanian athlete has only demonstrated that it is possible that the supplement she used may be contaminated, but not the presence of increased quantities in her body. Halep could have received a lesser punishment if she had proven that the additional ingestion of Roxadustat pointed out by ITIA - which would result in the difference in substance in her body - was unintentional. She could have faced a 6-year suspension if the independent tribunal Sport Resolutions had accepted ITIA's proposal.
On the other side, Simona Halep's lawyer, Bogdan Stoica, stated in an interview with Digi Sport that ITIA refused any form of cooperation or discussion and that it is an institution aimed at "destroying the athletes it investigates."
Halep's team says they conducted tests with a volunteer who ingested the same collagen as her, following the same quantities and daily protocol. After a period of 3-4 days, a urine test came back positive for Roxadustat, confirming the contamination of the collagen and the fact that the collagen could lead to a positive result. All this information was provided to ITIA.
The tennis player's defence team acknowledged that Halep's test on August 29, 2022, was positive. They no longer contested the validity of the test.
Simona Halep was provisionally suspended in October 2022 after testing positive for Roxadustat at the US Open - a prohibited substance considered a blood doping agent. On September 12, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced that an independent tribunal suspended Halep for four years for doping. This means she will not be allowed to play professional tennis until October 6, 2026.
In a first reaction, the Romanian tennis player said she was "shocked and disappointed" by the tribunal's ruling, announcing plans to challenge the decision.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Sabin Cirstoveanu)