Simona Halep, a former world number one tennis player, has accused the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) of engaging in contradictory behavior regarding her doping case.
Halep, who had already been suspended since October for testing positive for a banned substance during the US Open, was recently charged with a second doping offense related to irregularities in her biological passport. In a tweet, the 2019 Wimbledon champion expressed her shock and disappointment at the ITIA’s request for a third delay in her hearing.
Halep firmly denied the charges and criticized the ITIA for publicly claiming to be committed to an empathetic, efficient, and timely process, while privately seeking to postpone her hearing multiple times. She questioned when this behavior would cease and stressed her right to a swift hearing, emphasizing that the ITIA’s actions were infringing upon her rights.
Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, echoed her sentiments, accusing the ITIA of playing a “double game” from the outset. In response, an ITIA spokesperson stated that they had proposed combining both charges into a single hearing to avoid multiple proceedings.
They justified the request for a delay by explaining the need for sufficient time to assess the significant materials associated with the latest charge. The final decision, however, lies with the independent tribunal, and Halep has the opportunity to present her case to them.
Halep’s initial suspension resulted from testing positive for roxadustat, an anti-anaemia drug that stimulates red blood cell production.
She maintains her innocence, claiming she was unaware of taking the banned substance. Investigations into failed drug tests by the ITIA can be complex, particularly when the player denies intentional use. Such cases often take months to resolve, as the player may provide evidence to refute or mitigate the test results, leading to further investigation and testing by the ITIA, thereby prolonging the process.