Former No.1 Simona Halep provisionally suspended for a positive test at US Open

Aug 29, 2022; Flushing, NY, USA; Simona Halep of Romania reacts during a match against Daria Snigur of Ukraine on day one of the 2022 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Halep of Romania says the fight against this suspension is about "honor" (Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports).

Simona Halep, former world No. 1, has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) after testing positive for a banned substance at this year’s US Open.

Halep, according to a Friday statement from the ITIA, provided a sample that contained Roxadustat. The substance is listed in the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list.

Halep addressed the suspension Friday with her own statement.

“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for truth,” she wrote. “I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity.”

Roxadustat is a European Union medically approved drug used to treat the anemia symptoms caused by kidney failure. According to the EU's medicines agency, it stimulates the body to produce more of the natural hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, which can increase red blood cell count and, in turn, generate more stamina.

The 31-year-old called the news “the biggest shock of [her] life,” adding that she never considered cheating because of her values.

Halep and the ITIA's testing timeline

Now ranked No. 9 in the world, Halep announced on Twitter that she was ending her season early in September after undergoing nose surgery for her breathing.

The ITIA alerted Halep of her positive test result on Oct. 7. She provided the sample in August during the US Open.

According to the World Anti-Doing Code, Halep faces a ban of up to four years. After admission and sanction, she would be eligible for a potential reduction in her ban. Her case will be handled by tennis authorities and can eventually be challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

During her provisional suspension, Halep is ineligible to compete in, or attend, any sanctioned events.