Simona Halep, a two-time major winner, has been suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) for a doping breach.
The Romanian reportedly tested positive for Roxadustat, a banned substance used as a blood booster.
She was tested during this year’s US Open and both her A and B samples had the presence of roxadustat, an anti-anaemia drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells similar to the effects of another prohibited substance Erythropoietin (EPO).
Simona Halep becomes the most high-profile name linked with doping in tennis since 2016 when Maria Sharapova was suspended for 15 months for the use of Meldonium. Halep, however, faces a four-year ban if found intentionally guilty of using the drug.
“Simona Halep, a 31-year-old Romanian tennis player, has been provisionally suspended under Article 7.12.1 of the 2022 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP),” the body said in a statement.
“The sample was split into A and B samples and the subsequent analysis found that the A sample contained FG-4592 (Roxadustat), which is a prohibited substance listed in the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
The 2018 French Open winner and the 2019 Wimbledon winner issued a statement on the matter soon after, vowing to clear her name.
“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth. I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity.”
“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.”
Halep, who has already curtailed her season to undergo surgery to fix breathing problems, cannot compete in any WTA-sanctioned events until her name is cleared.
She won two WTA titles this season including the Canadian Open.