Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has been charged with a second doping offence over “irregularities in her athlete biological passport”.
The former world No 1 and Wimbledon champion has been provisionally suspended since October last year after testing positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.
Last month Halep criticised the delay in her case, but the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Friday the Romanian had been charged with a “further and separate breach of the tennis anti-doping programme” after an independent assessment of her athlete biological passport.
Nicole Sapstead, senior director for anti-doping at the ITIA, said in a statement: “We understand this announcement adds complexity to an already high-profile situation.
“From the outset of this process – and indeed any other at the ITIA – we have remained committed to engaging with Ms Halep in an empathetic, efficient, and timely manner.
“We do, of course, appreciate there is a great deal of media interest in these cases.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on specifics until the conclusion of the process, but we will continue to engage with the Sport Resolutions independent tribunal and Ms Halep’s representatives as expeditiously as possible.”
Speaking in April, Halep said: “I’ve been provisionally suspended for eight months even though I’ve sent all the evidence regarding my contamination to the ITF last December.
“I don’t ask for any special treatment, but to be able to get judged by the tribunal. I feel it is unfair. How long is it going to last?”
Last October she said: “I will fight till the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that, sooner or later, the truth will come out.”
Sky Sports News has contacted representatives of Simona Halep for comment.
Halep: The worst nightmare of my life | ‘I’m the victim of contamination’
In response to Friday’s findings, Halep released the following statement via her social media channels:
“Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA, for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life.
Twitter Due to your consent preferences, you’re not able to view this. Open Privacy Options
“Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven’t ever even thought of taking an illicit substance.
“I tried two times to have the opportunity to be judged by an independent tribunal, and the ITIA has constantly found reasons to postpone.
“Now that we have clearly established that I have been victim of a contamination, they came up with a so-called not normal evolution of my blood. Three world renowned experts that have studied my blood test have been extremely clear that my blood is totally normal.
“I feel helpless facing such harassment and motivation on their behalf to proven guilty of something I never did. Once again, all my life I have been totally against any sort of cheating. It doesn’t align with my values.
“The only thing I hope for, at this point, is to have the possibility to finally access the independent and impartial judges in a tribunal, that will give me the chance to prove my innocence.
“I have full trust in justice and I look forward to finally being able to present my case at my hearing that is schedule at the end of May, after several delays by the ITIA.
“The support of my loved ones, the tennis world, and my fans have given me the courage to continue to practice every day and fight for the truth. I cannot thank you more for that. Love, Simona.”