Serving lengthy doping ban, tennis star Simona Halep sues health supplement company for damages in excess of $10 million

As she serves a four-year doping ban, Romanian tennis star Simona Halep is now pursuing legal action against a Canadian health supplements company for damages in excess of $10 million.

Halep, 32, submitted the legal complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Thursday, with Quantum Nutrition – also operating as Schinoussa Superfoods – and other unnamed individuals listed as defendants.

The two-time grand slam winner tested positive for the banned substance roxadustat – which is listed on the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List – at the 2022 US Open.

According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), roxadustat is a class of drug called HIF-stabilizing agents and can increase an athlete’s red blood cell count and boost endurance performance.

CNN has reached out to Quantum Nutrition as well as Halep’s attorneys for comment.

According to the complaint, Halep used Schinoussa supplements during the 2022 US Open tournament in New York. She later tested positive for roxadustat, which is not disclosed on the product’s label, the document says.

Quantum Nutrition is accused to have acted “carelessly and negligently” in allowing the product to becoming contaminated with roxadustat, according to the court documents.

The former world No. 1 has never knowingly taken any banned substances and is the subject of a “level of gross negligence,” the filing says.

Halep should be awarded at trial for loss of past and future income and earning capacity, the complaint states, as well as “past and future pain, suffering and humiliation” as well as “loss of enjoyment of life.”

Due to her ongoing suspension, Halep “has sustained damages in excess of US $10 million,” the complaint says. According to the Women’s Tennis Association, the 32-year-old has earned over $40 million in prize money during her career.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has said Halep’s suspension is backdated and will run from October 7, 2022, until October 6, 2026.

Halep arrives with her lawyer for a hearing. - Laurent Gillieron/Keystone/AP
Halep arrives with her lawyer for a hearing. - Laurent Gillieron/Keystone/AP

Halep was charged by the agency with two separate breaches of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme. Along with testing positive for roxadustat, Halep was charged with irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), which is designed to monitor an athlete’s selected biological variables over time.

Halep, having previously denied wrongdoing, responded to the announcement of her suspension by saying she will appeal and has “never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance.”

John Koveos, the founder of Quantum Nutrition, disputed the claims when speaking with Canadian news outlet The Globe and Mail in October 2023 after news reports tied the company to the doping case.

“They needed somebody to blame,” Koveos told The Globe.

Quantum Nutrition supplies products to “hundreds of athletes,” including Olympians, CFL and NHL players, Koveos told The Globe, adding that the company has a “100 percent clean record on all our athletes, and they’re regularly tested.”

Koveos claims Halep “was not the only athlete using that particular product on that particular day” at the tournament but did not name others, The Globe reported.

Halep said in a statement after her suspension that she had adjusted her nutritional supplements ahead of the hard-court season in 2022. She said that none of the listed ingredients included any prohibited substances, but accepted that one of them was contaminated with roxadustat.

“I was tested almost weekly after my initial positive test through early 2023, all of which came back negative,” Halep said.

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