The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced Friday that Romanian Simona Halep has been temporarily suspended after testing positive for the prohibited blood booster roxadustat. Halep is a two-time major champion.
Halep, ranked ninth in the world, was tested at the U.S. Open, and both her A and B samples were positive for roxadustat. This anti-anaemia medicine increases the synthesis of red blood cells in a manner similar to the banned chemical Erythropoietin (EPO).
The 2019 Wimbledon winner then requested an analysis of her B sample, which corroborated the previous results.
Former world number one Halep called the suspension as the “greatest shock of her life” and denied using any prohibited substances on purpose.
Halep, who won Roland Garros in 2018 also said that her struggle was not about “titles or money,” but rather her honour, and she hoped that the truth would finally be revealed.
Halep’s ban prohibits her from participating in or attending sanctioned tennis tournaments organised by the sport’s governing organisations.
Halep, the winner of two championships this season, finished her season early after getting rhinoplasty to tackle respiratory issues last month.