Simona Halep has insisted she did not “knowingly” take performance-enhancing drugs, as she waits for a doping hearing seven months since being provisionally suspended.
The former world number one tested positive for banned substance roxadustat after she provided a sample at last year’s US Open.
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Halep has not played since and is yet to have a hearing about the case.
“Knowingly, I have not taken any banned substance,” the Romanian star told tennismajors.com in an interview published Thursday.
“I am a big supporter of clean sports and have always been against doping.
“I had no clue at the beginning about where this substance came from.”
Halep, who claims experts found she had accidentally taken a contaminated supplement, said the International Tennis Federation cancelled a planned tribunal in February to do additional testing before postponing another hearing scheduled for last month.
“The next step is a hearing at the end of May, the 28th, but it is very fragile because the ITF said that they might cancel it as well,” Halep said.
“If they do that, it will be almost eight months since I’ve been provisionally suspended for the first time and I believe that it’s not fair to spend eight months without even being judged by the tribunal.
“It’s been seven months since I’ve been originally suspended even though I’ve had all the evidence since December. I’m not asking for special treatment. I just ask to be judged. How much longer is this going to take?”
Halep said after her positive test last October that she would “fight until the end” to clear her name.
“A player that is provisionally suspended is entitled to get an expedited hearing,” she said Thursday.
“Everything takes so long. I asked the ITF to lift my sanction to be able to play but they also refused it.”
Halep had climbed back into the world’s top 10 before she was suspended having dropped out of the top 20 in 2020 following injury problems.
But the two-time Grand Slam champion is set to tumble further from her current mark of 26th as she waits to find out when she can return.
“I really want to play again because I love this sport and I want to play for the big titles again,” Halep said.
“I have worked all my life for this. At this age (31), it’s really tough to lose days, weeks, and months. You are scared about the injuries.
“When you don’t have official matches, it is more risky. When time passes like this, it is harder to come back.”
Roxadustat is a drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells and is used in the treatment of patients with kidney problems.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)